No college search can be complete without a least a few college visits. There is no better way to learn about a college and its campus then to see it for yourself. Spring break is one of the most popular times to visit campuses. Colleges and high schools often have different break schedules. When classes are in session, high school students can get a better idea of academic and student life.
To get the most from a college visit, families need to do some prep work. Below is a checklist for parents and their students
- Do research. Review a college’s website before you visit. It will give you a good overview of the school and help you decide what you want to see. Basic research can also help when speaking with a college representative. You do not want to ask questions that can easily be found on the website.
- Plan the visit. In addition to a campus tour, call ahead to schedule an individual appointment with a college admissions counselor. Schedule time so you can eat on campus. If possible, arrange to meet a professor, attend a class and-or stay overnight on campus in a residence hall.
- Make a list of questions to ask admissions officers, financial aid representatives, faculty and students. Thinking through your questions before you visit a college will make the college search easier.
- Make a list of “must see” places you want to visit on campus. Student-athletes may want to visit the practice facilities or the weight room. Art majors may want to visit a studio.
- Pack the following items
- A camera. During your tour, take a lot of pictures. If you’re comparing several schools, the photos can help you remember the details. While details may seem unforgettable at the time of your visit, by the third or fourth tour, schools will start to blur together. The first photo at any school should be of something with the college’s name. This will be particularly helpful if visiting multiple schools on one trip.
- A recording device. Group information sessions provide many facts and details about a college. Having a recorder makes it easier to focus on the speaker and your surroundings rather than getting all the words on a page. A recorder will also make it easy for you to review the information while working on your application or personal statement.
- A tablet or journal and pen. Make note of important pieces of information during your info session or campus tour. In addition to numbers and facts, jot down your likes, dislikes and feelings during the visit so you can remember which schools felt right to you and why. Write down the names of speakers you liked, details about the school and programs you may want to research further. In addition to helping you, details are good to drop in any future interviews or correspondence with the college.
- Comfortable clothing and shoes. The main feature of a campus tour is the tour. This means you will be doing a lot of walking. Also do a weather-check before your visit and bring anything that you may need like an umbrella or sunscreen.
- Copies of resumes, test scores, and transcripts. Resumes are definitely needed for rising juniors and seniors who have scheduled a campus interview. During your visit, questions may also come up where it would be convenient for the admissions representative to look at a transcript or score report. On some visits you may never need these documents, but for the times when you do, it is good to have them.
- An ID card or passport. Many schools request identification in order to access certain buildings, such as the library.
- A positive attitude. Stay open-minded. A school may not meet your expectations or it may surprise you and exceed them. It’s all a great adventure. Enjoy the journey.