Preparing for College Campus Visits

Important things that you should know before a college tour and campus visit:

I wanted to share some thoughts on making the most of a college visit and campus tour. Both high school seniors who have completed their college admission applications and high school juniors who are planning ahead can benefit from college campus tours and should think about the best way to approach college tours. Just showing up on campus is not enough! There really is a lot to know when preparing for college visits and this blog article is devoted to preparing you for the all-important college visit!

Below are many things to consider when preparing for a college visit. Planning ahead will help you get the most from campus visits.

1)      Before arriving on campus, make sure you research the college in depth, especially if you have a college interview schedules. Be sure to check out the college’s website, any online videos, and both the course offerings, areas of study, and activities. All of this information should be readily available on the college website. Jot down any questions that come up while you are researching the school and be sure to arrive at the college with a list of questions that were not addressed on the college’s website. Ask questions about life on campus and campus culture to name a few. In addition, develop a specific list of the things that are important to the student. For example, note the preferred size of the college, class size, specific major, or activities that are important to the student. That way they can verify that the college meets their specifications.

2)      When scheduling your trip, pick a time when school is in session at the college. This way you really get a feel for the pulse of the campus and the student body, whereby you won’t get a true feel for the campus when classes are not in session. So timing of your campus visit is very important. If you visit during the summer or the college’s spring break, you are less likely to get an accurate feel for the school. Make sure to schedule your tour in advance and if possible schedule an interview with the admission office as well. Take advantage of any interview options with the admissions office as this is a solid opportunity for you to show you are serious about attending the college and to share additional information about yourself.

3)      Once on campus, pick up a campus map, a school newspaper, and any other publications that may be reflective of life on campus. You can get a good sense of the college climate by the flyers and newspapers that are put out by the student body.

4)      Take pictures and take notes as you roam around the campus. Your first campus visit may be fresh in your mind, however, after you do a few visits your memories may begin to meld together. Having pictures and accurate notes will help you keep the details of each college fresh in your mind.

5)      In addition to formal campus tours, be sure to spend enough time on campus so that you can roam around on your own. Poke around areas of campus that were not included in the formal tour and check out the area around campus in the actual town or city that the college is located in. The college campus is very important, however, it is also good to know what the surrounding neighborhoods have to offer.

6)      Spend some time in the student union and dining halls. See if the admissions office will give you a pass for a meal in the dining hall or student union. Check out the food offerings that are available and seating options. Also, if you have any food concerns, you can ask around to see if there are vegetarian, vegan, kosher, gluten-free, or other special diet and organic options available. Ask students if they are happy with the dining service offering.

7)      Talk to students and look at bulletin boards in these student-centered areas to get a sense of whether students are happy. Ask pointed questions to students about the food, the dorms, and life on campus. Students are usually more than happy to share their experience with prospective students. A group of random students can often enlighten you about life on campus both during the week and on the weekends; valuable and uncensored information for the prospective college student.

8)      When possible, chat with a professor in your intended area of study. Inquire about class sizes, undergraduate research opportunities, internships, and Federal Work Study job options. Stopping by an academic office is the great opportunity to get a pulse on the type of scholarly work and research being done. It is also nice to have an idea of how accessible faculty member seem to be.

9) Pay a visit to the financial aid office and find out what they require for a financial aid application and see what financial aid programs are available to students. In addition to your college campus visit, be sure to think about college financing specifics – pick up a copy of Financial Aid Sense so that you don’t miss out on financial aid opportunities!

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