The campus visit is a crucial part of the college decision process. It is a time to ask questions, take a tour, sit in on classes, and obtain an overall perspective of the college’s atmosphere. Visiting different colleges will give you a better understanding of which college is right for you. Since you may have various questions about the campus visit, the following should help you when you make each trip.
How should you prepare for the visit?
Before you visit a college campus, you should do a little research on the college. Look through brochures and view the college’s website to find out basic information. This will give you more time on the tour to find out information that is not found on the website. You should also schedule a campus tour at least two weeks before you make the trip. Be sure to have your parents book flight, hotel, and rental car accommodations (if needed) in advance as well.
What should you bring along?
There are several items you should bring with you in order to make the campus visit a success. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes since you will actually be taking a tour of the campus. You will also want to bring a tablet or a journal so you can jot down any notes that will help you remember the college. Since you may be seeing a lot of campuses, these notes will come in handy if you forget any details about certain colleges. Pictures will also help you remember particular details about colleges so be sure to pack a camera or your cell phone with video and camera capabilities. This will allow you to look back at pictures that can’t be found on the college’s website or in the brochures.
Who should you talk to?
Try to meet with various members of the campus community. You will definitely want to meet with an admissions officer to discuss the school’s requirements, deadlines, and financial aid programs. If possible, try talking to some professors to get a feel of what they expect out of a student. All professors are different so try to talk to as many as you can; you may even want to sit in on some of their classes to obtain a good perspective. Don’t be afraid to go up to current students and start a conversation. Find out what they think about the college as a whole. Ask if they are happy with the college choice that they made. Since students are not employed by the college, they will not give you biased answers.
What questions should you ask?
Now that you know who to talk to, you may be wondering what questions you should ask these people. You will want to ask a variety of questions so you will go home with enough information to help you make a decision on where you want to go. Use the following questions as a guideline, and if you think of other questions, be sure to ask.
- What academic factors are considered during the admissions process?
- What is the average class size?
- Are professors accessible outside of class?
- What is the typical way to get in touch with a professor? Email? Phone call?
- Do you usually get in all the classes that you need to register for?
- On average, do professors or graduate students teach freshmen level classes?
- Are there academic scholarships available through the school?
- Are there tutoring services available on campus?
- What are the college’s most popular academic programs?
- What is the grading system like at this college?
- What is the attendance policy?
- What is the cost of attendance?
- If you have financial need, will you be able to get a financial aid package that meets all of your demonstrated need?
- What percentage of students receive financial aid?
- Are there work-study jobs available on campus? Off campus?
- If you don’t qualify for work-study, what other jobs are available near campus that you could apply for?
- Are you required to live on campus your first year?
- What percentage of students live on campus all four years? Are the dorms single sex or coed?
- Are there community baths in the dorms?
- What are the rules for students living in dorms?
- Do the dorms have laundry facilities?
- Do the dorms have computer labs?
- What types of meal plans are available?
- What hours may students access food services?
- How many restaurants/cafes are on campus?
- How do students spend their free time?
- What are the most popular extra curricular activities?
- What do most students do on the weekends? Stay on campus? Go home?
- Are there sororities and fraternities on campus?
- How many students participate in Greek life?
- Are parties allowed on campus?
- Do you like the surrounding city or town?
- Is the city or town big enough for your taste? Does it have a variety of restaurants, museums, nightclubs, parks, and movie theatres?
- Is the city or town small enough for your taste? Is it rural and peaceful?
- Will you have to have a car to live on campus? Can you walk to most restaurants, nightclubs, etc.?
- What is the city’s public transportation system like?
- Is the college considered an athletic school?
- Are there athletic scholarships available?
- What sports are played at the school?
- Do athletes have to miss a lot of classes in order to participate in games?
- Do athletes have their own dorms?
- How safe is the campus? How often are crimes reported?
- How are safety issues addressed?
- Is the campus well lit?
- Are there emergency phones on campus?
- Is there a pick-up service for students walking at night?
What if you can’t visit?
There are always circumstances in which a student cannot visit a college campus in person. If you are unable to make a campus visit but are still interested in finding out about the college, you have several options. You can call the school’s admissions office to ask any questions you may have. If they do not have an answer, they will direct you to someone who does. You can also talk to your high school counselor. He/she may have information about the college that you are interested in. If your school counselor knows someone who goes to that college, he/she may be able to get you in touch with that student so the two of you can discuss what the college is like. Finally, if you can’t visit a campus in person, you can always take a virtual tour of the school.