Springtime signifies a time of new beginnings and interesting adventures. For high school juniors and seniors, it is usually the time of year to make visits to the colleges they are interested in attending. Making visits to potential colleges can be both exiting and anxiety provoking. It can be a daunting task trying to determine if a specific school could be a ‘fit’ for on any given student. Because both high school juniors and admitted seniors tend to tour schools at this time of year, campuses can get crowded with potential attendees. There is also a difference between what students thinking about applying are interested in finding out versus what students already accepted are looking for. What follows are a few simple suggestions to consider in either case.
1. Plan ahead. While the idea of an impromptu road trip may sound enticing, folks who call ahead to schedule tours usually find their visit to be far more beneficial than those who simply show up only to discover to their dismay that all tours and opportunities to talk to admissions officers are already booked.
2. Consider the demographics and logistics. Although the campus you are visiting may offer breathtaking views, it is important to consider the plausibility of attending before you even apply. Remember not only to analyze the potential of the campus but also, evaluate the access.
3. Visit your academic area of interest. On paper or these days online, a school can seem to offer a multitude of academic opportunities in your area of interest, seeing however is believing. A campus visit allows you to really check out what the school offers. Do they for example, have state of the art facilities for pursuing your specific interests? Where is the department situated? Does it appear as if the school is as invested in this course of study as you are? A department located in an out-of-way neglected building is often a tip-off that it may receive less attention from the college.
4. Do you feel like you fit in? Take a look around at the students walking around campus, do they look like your kind of people. Could you envision yourself walking to class with a group of friends or out for a coffee? Although you may admire the facilities the school has to offer, it is also important to feel like you could easily fit in. A good way to gauge this is to hang out at the student union or corner sandwich shop and people watch. If you like the campus but feel like you would be a fish out of water attending, go find another pond to swim in. With the multitude of schools out there, you are sure to find a more compatible match so why bother applying?
5. Be open to dispel your pre-conceptions. Forget what you have heard or even thought about a school when you visit. Keep your mind clear and your eyes wide open. Campus visits can really help you hone in on what you want and don’t want from a school. Consider things like location, size and campus lay out.
1. Visit on a designated Accepted Students Day if possible. In addition to receiving information specifically targeted at students already accepted, such visits also provide an opportunity to mingle with other accepted students.
2. Envision your life attending the school. Consider important details such as distance from class to dorms and access to goods and services you will require on a daily basis. If for example, working out in the gym is an important part of your daily routine, be sure to check out where the facilities are located, how you could get there, and what the specific facilities offer. Does the gym for example have both cardio machines and free weights? Do they offer classes, and how would you go about signing up?
3. Get a good sense of the social scene. Take the time to understand how students at the school interact with each other. Do students for example, stay on campus during the weekends and attend school-sponsored events, or are they more likely to go to an off-campus hangout?
4. Rank-order your living choices. Take pictures to remember each option.
5. Arrange to talk with an advisor and at least one student currently enrolled in the program or school to which you have been accepted. Talking with someone in the environment often offers a more concise understanding of the experience.
Finally a word to the wise, go with your gut. If you’re on campus visit leaves you with a lackluster feeling, take the school off your list. While it may work for others, if you aren’t feeling it on a visit, it is most likely not the right match for you. With so many colleges and university to choose from, there is a good fit for everyone. Making a campus visit is often the best way to clarify which school would work for you.