With all the information readily available on college websites and brochures, you might wonder if a campus visit is necessary. In my opinion, if possible, you should always visit the colleges you are interested to attend, because there are so much more you can learn from a campus visit than from the virtual tour on the university’s website.
A campus visit allows you to get a firsthand experience of seeing the actual campus, such as the facilities available for your intended major and student dormitory. You can also interact with students and faculty members to gain insights of the school’s atmosphere. Considering which college you will spend the most important four years of your life, you need all the information available to guide you to find the perfect college. Below are a few tips on taking full advantages of your campus visit:
Contact the admission office to see when tours and information sessions are offered. Prior to your visit, you should do some research about the school and plan ahead to ensure you are making the most out of it. I would suggest to reserve at least half a day for each campus visit to give yourself to tour, interview, and explore. Summer is a good time to explore colleges. Also, the campus tour groups tend to be smaller, so you can utilize this opportunity to gather facts about the university and get all your questions answered.
Many campus visits give you the chance to talk to students and faculties, and also admission officers. Therefore, you should always prepare a list of questions beforehand, so you can learn more about different academic programs and campus life. Common questions include:
– What is the average class size and the student-to-faulty ratio?
– Are most classes taught by professors or graduate student instructors?
– What is the size of the incoming class for freshman? Is the campus diverse?
– Where do most freshmen live?
– What is the meal plan like? How is the food?
– Are you able to register for courses you want?
– What types of activities are available for students?
– How successful are the college’s graduates in finding jobs?
Check out Bulletin Boards and Student Newspaper
As you tour the campus, remember to take a look at the bulletin boards, especially in student center, academic buildings, and residence halls. They provide general ideas on activities happening outside of the classrooms, such as lecture series, student clubs, recitals, and performance. Student newspaper also offers an uncensored take on the issues students face and what campus life is really like.
If you plan to visit several campuses, be sure to take notes and pictures for records to remind yourself what each campus was like. After each visit, you should write down your thoughts on what you like and dislike about each college. After visiting all the schools, these notes, in your own words, will provide a good starting point to compare different colleges, helping you to identify the college most suitable for you.
By Cheryl Leung , ThinkTank Learning Admissions Consultant and Academic Counselor