First, work closely with the admissions office. The student should register for both the information session and the visit using their dedicated college email account, one used only for college admission purposes. Registering allows the college to record your interest and to properly schedule your visit. If you have questions in advance, contact the admissions officer assigned to represent students from your area. Most admissions officers will take the time to answer your questions and help you to make appointments to meet with students who share your interests, speak with faculty in your intended major or meet with a counselor in the career development center. Many keep detailed records of each visiting student’s interests. These records might make the difference in an admissions decision.
After the campus tour, tour some more! Stroll around the campus and find out where students go to socialize and take breaks from classes. You will want to try a meal in the dining hall, find out where students go for medical care and notice campus safety and how students get around campus. It’s easy to walk around a smaller school, but students take shuttles to get around many larger, more spread-out universities. Hop on one for a ride around campus and catch student vibes at the same time!
Next, check out the extended campus community. There are many differences between a school in a large city versus one in a smaller city or college town including variations in cultural life, school spirit, food and entertainment options. Be sure to notice how easy or hard it is to get into the community surrounding campus. Can you walk right into town? Or do you need to rely on public transportation or the campus shuttle to get around? As you venture out on your own, stop and talk to students. Ask them their likes and dislikes about their school. Was it easy/hard for them to get into the major that they wanted? To transfer to a different major? To see a professor for help on a paper or exam? And do they feel the professors really enjoy teaching undergraduates.
Finally, it is hard to remember everything about a college when you visit a couple a day for a week on spring break! So be sure to document your visit by taking photos and making detailed notes.
College admissions offices try to make the campus visit experience as pleasant as possible. But it’s up to you to make it a truly informative and memorable experience – one you can draw upon when you gather the information you need to place a school on your final college application list and write your college essays. The time to visit is worth the investment, given the investment that you will make in higher education.
Elizabeth LaScala PhD guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She helps students choose majors and programs of interest, develops best match college lists, offers personalized essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize scholarship opportunities and financial aid awards. Call (925) 385-0562 or visit Elizabeth at her website to learn more.