Visiting the colleges and universities on your list of potential options is by far the best way to get a feeling for the school. There’s much to be said for the research you have already done, and while this is imperative to the application process, nothing can compare to physically being on the campus. Many of our admission experts remember their college visits and having the A-Ha moment of knowing where they thought they belonged.
Campus tours and visits can be fast. We have created a list to help you make the absolute most of each visit.
Attending the official campus tour is extremely important for understanding the campus. Most times, the tour guides are active students at the university. This is your chance to hear their perspectives of the tour. They will show you the most important parts of campus. Also keep in mind that this student’s perspective and experience is different than many others. Reach out to other students for their opinions, as well.
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While you’re on the tours and information sessions on campus, be sure to listen to all of the details. Ask all of the questions you want to--even if you’re nervous and the rest of the group is quiet. This is your chance to find answers to all of your questions about this particular university...from the experts--current students!
More likely than not, you will be visiting at least a handful of universities. In order to keep the universities and the visits clear in your mind, take notes and photos. Take photos of buildings, the quads, cafeterias, and more. Take notes about what you did and didn’t like at each stop. This will help you as you move closer to decision time.
Once you finish the official campus tour, it’s time to take your own walk around campus. This will allow you to explore different areas of the campus and to get a real feel for what it will be like when you’re walking around the university on your own. Pop into different buildings that peaked your interest but you didn’t have time to stop at on the official tour.
One of the best ways to get to know the campus and what campus life is truly like is speaking with students currently studying there. Most students are incredibly proud and happy to be attending their university, and will be open to sharing their experiences with you. They also are not officially representing the university, so may be more open and honest about their lives at college. Feel free to ask questions about courses, professors, cafeterias, social life, and even parties!
Spending a night on campus is a great way to understand what life is like outside of the classroom. This will show you the social structure of the university, and how students spend their off time. This is especially important if you envision yourself living in the dormitories, as most students do for at least their first year. Many universities have programs to pair prospective students with current students. Prior to your visit, reach out to the admissions department to organize this.
Sitting in on a lecture is one of the best ways to figure out whether a school’s academics are a match for your needs. Getting a feel for the teaching style of a professor or department may be an invaluable experience helping you make your final decisions. The admissions department of each college will be able to help you organize this.
The university newspaper is a great way to get a pulse on what life is like at a particular university. Look through to read opinion pieces, see upcoming events, discover resources and read up on important concerns on campus.
Much of your time at college will be spent off campus, as well. It’s important to check out the surrounding town. Take a walk down the streets, stop in a coffee shop, check out the local stores. Make sure you feel comfortable in the surrounding town and that it’s a place you could see yourself happily exploring.
While your campus visit will teach you an immense amount about the university and the life you will have there, be cognisant of the fact that one person’s experience is different than someone else’s. The weather that day might influence your feelings about the university, but try to look beyond this. Maybe your tour guide wasn’t the best--but this doesn’t mean the school isn’t a great fit for you. Go with an open mind and to gain all of the information you possibly can. Be a sponge--soak it all up...and most importantly, enjoy it! This is such an exciting part of the application process. Don’t forget to sit back, take a deep breath and appreciate the experience.
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