The college visit is an important part of the application process and is viewed by the admissions office as a demonstration of your interest toward the school. While we may not be able to visit every college on our list, there is no better way to get a real feel for the school and many students tend to change their mind after the visit. Go prepared and follow these 10 tips to make the most out of your visit:
- Check the calendar and schedule your visit while school is in session. This is the best way to get a realistic idea of student life on campus.
- Take the campus tour. This gives the school a chance to show off anything new and exciting and will provide you with general facts about the school. It is also wise to create your own tour. Visit the dining hall, the freshman dormitories, and classrooms. See if you can sit through a class you’re thinking of majoring in.
- Schedule interviews with the admissions office ahead of time. This is important and an excellent opportunity to stand out in an increasingly competitive environment.
- Come prepared with thoughtful questions for your interview and don’t stop there. Talk to students and ask their thoughts about the college. They will be happy to give you their honest opinions.
- Plan ahead to meet coaches and music directors while you are visiting. This introduction could play an important role in the admissions process.
- Look at bulletin boards and read the student newspaper. This can give you an unbiased view of what is really going on with students.
- Spend the night. Some schools offer overnight programs which is a chance to interact with potential fellow students or roommates. If this program is not offered, it can be nice to stay off-campus just as well and get a feel for the nightlife in the area.
- Keep a log. After visiting so many campuses, memories may start to overlap. It is helpful to keep track of the things you liked or did not like about the school. Be detailed!
- Save the best for last. As you go through these visits, you will become better at asking the right questions and finding the best spots to hang out to get a genuine feel for campus life. It is wise to visit your favorites last so you will be able to compare to the others on your list.
- Send a thank you note. Always follow up with those you interviewed with or coaches you may have met. Write a thoughtful note in a formal tone and include reasons you like the school and express your interest. Make this note short and sweet and always end it with a question that will require the school to get back to you. This will create a trail of correspondence that ultimately becomes part of your application.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience! There are some big decisions to be made here and the more information you can gather, the better. Sometimes it is a matter of gut instinct telling you something is not right and then you may have that “AHA!” moment at a school you didn’t think you would like but suddenly love. Keep an open mind and have fun!