Tips For Students
Ask questions. College visits are your best chance to ask questions about the stuff that matters to you most. Put together a list of three to four questions that cover your greatest concerns about academics and life on campus. Ask those questions at every school you visit.
Don't be shy. Yes, it can feel a little intimidating at first to be walking around a college campus. But, colleges receive thousands of visits from high school students every year. You are not sticking out nearly as much as you think. On tours, walk up at the front with the tour guide, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Peek into a “real” dorm room and bathroom. If you can, check out a dorm room and dorm bathroom besides the one they show on the tour. Can you see yourself living here?
Eat in a student dining hall. Four years is a long time to go without eating, so try to eat in a campus dining hall. Dining halls are often also good places to observe what students are like, and get a sense of the social atmosphere.
Spend time walking around campus on your own. Sure, you’ll probably be visiting with your parents, but when you actually go to college, mom and dad won’t be coming with you. So, at some point during your time on campus, break away from your parents and walk around on your own for 15-20 minutes. Ask yourself: Is this a place where I can see myself being comfortable for four years?
Talk to students besides the tour guide. Although it may be tough to strike up a conversation with a student on a busy campus, try to do so if you can. Tour guides give you the “official” story of life on campus, but you want to know what it’s really like to go to school there. Two good questions to ask: “What do you like to do on the weekends around here?” and “If you could it over, would you pick this school again?”
Talk to a professor and sit in on a class. When scheduling your visit, ask admissions if it is possible to meet with a professor in your prospective major and sit in on a class in an academic subject that interests you while you’re on campus. While this might seem intimidating, you’ll learn much more about the academic climate on campus this way then you will from just going on the tour or attending the formal admissions presentation.
Explore the surrounding area. You’ll want to get off campus from time to time – what is there to do within walking distance of campus? Do you feel safe walking in the surrounding area? How friendly are the locals? Don't just drive through the surrounding neighborhood; get out of the car and walk around.
Read the campus bulletin boards. Campus bulletin boards often contain clues about campus social life, the political hot buttons of students, and even whether it’s easy to find a ride home to where you live for spring break. The student union is a particularly good place to peruse bulletin boards.
Read the student newspaper. You’ll usually find the student newspaper in a rack near the door of the main library or student union. Don’t leave campus without getting hold of the latest issue. Read it for insight into life on campus. If possible, keep a copy for future reference.
Write down your impressions and take pictures. After a few visits, colleges will start to blur together in your mind. As soon as possible after your visit, write down your impressions of each school for future reference. Take your camera (or cell phone) and snap as many pictures as you can of whatever catches your eye. When you’re trying to answer application essay questions about why you want to attend this school, you’ll be glad to have your notes and the photos to refer back to.
Enjoy this exciting adventure. College visits offer an exciting glimpse of your future. They are a chance to explore what it will be like to live on your own, study subjects you love, and make decisions for yourself. Treat college visits as an adventure, and have a good time!