Attending college is a big investment of time and money. Your student will be investing 2-6 years of their time not to mention thousands of dollars, so it is very important that you and your student know as much as you can about each institution before your student makes a final decision. One way to help in the decision making process of what college to attend is to schedule a campus visit.
Visiting college campuses is like test driving a car or checking out a new apartment. You want to do your due diligence. You wouldn’t just buy a car or move into a new apartment without checking things out first, would you? The school your child chooses to attend is where they will live for the next several years. It is where they will be molded by professors and their peers. It is very important to make sure it is the right "fit".
Below are 10 things you can do to learn the most on your campus visit.
Scheduling a Campus Visit
Most colleges are willing to schedule campus visits year round. We recommend our clients to schedule their campus visit during the academic year when classes are in session. You definitely want to be on campus when the school is fully operational unlike summers when some college campuses look like ghost towns. Before you attend a campus visit you and your student will first need to schedule one. Campus visits can be scheduled on the college’s or university’s website. Most schools have a standard format for their campus visits so to customize your visit, which we recommend doing, your student will need to call and speak with their admission counselor and inform them of everything you and your student would like to do while attending your campus visit. Be sure to give the school advance notice so they can accommodate your requests.
Attending a Campus Visit
Remember you want to do your due diligence, so check out everything.
1. Take a campus tour
It is standard procedure on a campus visit to take a campus tour. The tour will allow you to know the size of the campus, what the classrooms look like, and how up to date the buildings are.
2. Attend a class
Sitting in on a class will give you an idea of what to expect academically in the classroom. You will be able to see the interaction between student and professor, the size of the classroom, and technology in the classroom as well as knowing what to expect when attending a college class.
3. Meet a professor
If you have decided on a major, meet with the department head or a professor from that department. You will most likely be taking several courses from them. Also ask them what are alumni with the same major doing, how many professors are in the department, how many students are declaring this major?
4. View a dorm room
If you plan to live on-campus this is super important because you will be living there for the next four years. Check out the size of the room, what you can and cannot bring, how many roommates you could be living with, and the bathroom situation.
5. Eat in the cafeteria
Again also important because this will be the food you eat for the next four years. Look at what options you have. Different size schools offer different varieties of food.
6. Talk with a financial aid counselor
Find out what steps you need to take in order to receive financial aid. Also the financial aid counselor can give you an estimate of how much it may cost to attend.
7. Talk with a group of students
You are never going to get a more direct opinion than from students who attend the institution. Talking with college student on campus is like checking out a Yelp review online.
8. Talk with someone from student life
Knowing what clubs and organizations a college has as well as what activities are held on campus will give you an idea of how to get involved and make friends while attending college.
Additional Information for Athletes
9. Meet with a coach
If you want to play on a certain athletic team, this would be your chance to get to know the coach. Ask the coach what is expected of the players, what is a typical practice like, how much time should be devoted to being a valuable player on the team?
10. Practice with the team
Again if you plan to play a sport it would be nice to get to know who your teammates could be. Ask them what they think about the coach, how does everyone get along, their likes and dislikes?
If you can accomplish all of this on one campus visit, then you have done your due diligence and can make an informed decision on whether or not to attend. Also remember a campus visit is not just about checking things off the list. Each institution has a personality, and part of visiting campus is to gauge the institution’s personality with your personality. Attending college is a great investment. Be sure to trust your instinct.
Can you think of any other things to do while attending a campus visit?