5 Tips for College Visits
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The college search process is, no doubt, long and complicated. At such a young age, high school students are expected to make crucial decisions that will shape the rest of their lives. The idea is daunting, but through experience, I have come up with my top five tips for college visits. As a disclaimer, I am not an expert. My tips are simply derived from experience.
1. Do the research
College visits take time, so it is important that you plan ahead. Websites like collegeconfidential.com, college.niche.com and connection.naviance.com help prospective students get an idea of which potential schools may be the right fit for you. This process is tedious, but it is important to know what you want in a university. When you’re firsting starting out, you may not know what you want, and that is okay! I suggest you really think about what would be best for you in terms of size, type of university (research vs. liberal arts), diversity, location and program options in order to have a smaller, selective list of places to visit, saving you both time and money. There’s nothing worse than getting all excited about a school then finding out during your visit that they don’t have your major.
2. Get on campus
Visiting the school may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many students make their college decision without setting foot on campus . The Internet can only tell you so much; the information you learn on college tours is absolutely invaluable. An admissions counselor usually heads the information session. There, they tell you all the nitty-gritty details and statistics for admission, allowing you to compare yourself and evaluate your chances of acceptance. Also, they talk about student life and the majors available. Towards the end, they answer lingering questions you may have, and truly explain why you should study at the institution. After the information session, you walk around the campus with a student ambassador, a first hand resource for what life is like at the university. Pay close attention to your surroundings during the tour. Can you picture yourself walking around the campus on your way to class? Do you see yourself sporting the school colors? These are all aspects that can only be discovered during a physical tour.
3. Don’t simply go on the tour; explore the entire campus on your own as well
It is important to remember that colleges want you to apply. So, they are going to make their tour the best representation of the university as possible. As a result, they may only show you a small aspect of the campus, and perhaps the prettiest parts. In order to get a true feeling of the campus, take the time to walk from one end of the campus to the other. Make sure you carve out some time to explore the surrounding area. Remember, unless you are living at home, you are moving to a completely new place when you go to college and that means more than the campus itself. The surrounding city or town should be appealing to you aswell.Thus, it is important to get a sense of what your living environment and entertainment options would be like at that school.
4. Make connections with current students
The best person to ask about life at a university is a current student. They are the ones who are experiencing first hand all the school has to offer, making them the best resources for prospective students, especially about student life and the social dynamic of the university They can answer the questions that an admissions counselor cannot, and are most likely to be candid and honest about their responses. It’s an admissions counselor job to make the school look good, which is not the case for current students.
5. Take notes
It is more likely than not that you are going to look at a multitude of schools, each one having something different to offer. After your third or fourth visit, all those college visits begin to run together. In order to avoid confusion, take notes. Now, you don’t have to be “that kid” who isn’t paying attention to the school or admission counselor because he or she is too busy writing down every detail. Instead, pay attention on the tour, and then on your way back home, reflect. Make a pros and cons list, outlining the positives and negatives of the school in your opinion while its all fresh in your mind. Doing this will create a great resource for you in the long run, and will definitely ease the decision making process.