How to Maximize College Campus Visits

This week were going to be talking about an important aspect of the college admissions process which begins when families decide to make the trip to a college’s  campus . One of the biggest hardships experienced by freshman college students is learning to cope with a college that they either don’t like or weren’t prepared for attending. Thus it becomes critically important to correctly evaluate a college before deciding to attend. The primary way through which this can be accomplished is through visiting the college  campus  and experiencing what makes it unique. The biggest mistake families make when visiting a college  campus  for the first time is only attending a formal tour and attempting to learn from student presenters what the college atmosphere is all about. The key however is to truly learn what a college is like through experiencing its raw, natural and unique culture.

Today I am going to share with you 7 tips that will maximize the college visit but before I do that I would like to first define what I consider a college culture which consists of “all the activities, language, geography, people and history that make a college uniquely different than any other”. With that being said the goal of a college visit is to experience a college’s culture as intimately as possible and by following these 7 simple tips you can make this goal a reality.

7 Tips to Make the Most of Your College Visits

1. Create a decision model. What I mean by this is to make sure you begin the college visit process by creating a criteria behind how you measure each college. For instance, if your student is interested in public policy, a city-style  campus , and being private you should create a checklist that includes these core interests and then objectively measure each college against it as you visit each  campus .

2. Visit one type of each college you are considering. For instance, if you are not sure whether you would like to attend a smaller or larger college, visit a couple schools that are close by that represent each type, like a large public school and then a smaller private school. By doing so you’ll have a relative picture of what each college format feels like and whether it’s something that fits in with your personality and ambitions.

3. Make an appointment to take a tour. Schools will have certain times of the day or week set aside to give potential students and their family tours. This is always a great place to start. However, don’t be afraid to go with your instincts. If you pull up to the school and realize you just don’t like it, there’s no point sticking around. Also, staying overnight in a dorm, if the school offers it, is a great way to get to really get the college experience.

4. Schedule your visit when school is in session. I can’t stress this one enough, but it is very important to

see not only what the  campus  looks like, but what the students and faculty are like as well. We want to make sure that you will feel like you ‘belong’ once you are there, so we want you to see the student body and not just a bunch of buildings.

5. Ditch the tour guide. Once you’ve learned some of the main features of the school, the best way to see the  campus  is by wandering around on your own for awhile. This will give you a chance to see what everything is really like. Be sure to sit in on a class or two, or at least poke your head in the door

6. Get a soda or coffee in one of the student lounges. While you’re at it, get something to eat as well. You might as well find out now what the food is like. Some schools are known for having 5 star cuisines while others have food that is barely edible. You’re going to be there for four to five years, so this is an important step.

7. Check out the library, computer lab, gym, and laundry. Even though this isn’t directly related to what you’ll be studying and your major, you’ll be spending plenty of time at all of these areas, so be sure to take a look at them as well.