How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?
My initial response to this is that I hope you have visited or done thorough research on any school you have been admitted to. I don’t see the sense in applying to a school that you don’t have a good feeling for from day one.
Having said that, once you are an accepted student, any visit you make to a school should be about trying to finalize your decision as to whether or not this is the school you want to attend. Some schools will host accepted students programs specifically for this reason. If you are trying to decide between schools, a program like this is a great opportunity to meet current students, potentially stay overnight on campus and get a better feel for campus activities and student life. If a school you are admitted to hosts a program like this, you should make every effort to attend.
Ultimately, if you did your research up front, you should already know that any school you are admitted to is going to be somewhere you could be happy. A final visit as an accepted student is really about making sure you are ready to choose the school you feel that you would be MOST happy.
After you get accepted to a college/university, then the tables are turned, and now it’s your turn to check them out! Lots can change since you first applied. You’ll be spending the next four years there, so you’ll want to fully check out your options!
If at all possible, it is a good idea to visit the campus in-person. There’s a lot you can learn from the information they send you, their website, advice from friends and family, but there’s nothing like actually visiting the campus and getting a feel for how it really is.
Most colleges have a specific day that they reserve just for showing newly accepted students around. It’d definitely be good to go to this. Usually, there will be sessions to introduce you to faculty, staff, and current students. They’ll talk to you about academics, majors, student services, student clubs and activities, and most likely give you a tour of the campus and let you look in the dorms. This is a good way to get an overview of the campus, its programs, majors, and get a lot of your questions answered. You can also learn a lot from listening to the answers of questions that other students ask.
In addition, there are some other things you can do while you’re there. Maybe it’d be a good idea to stick around a day or two, or come a day or two early, and just hang out on campus. Maybe grab lunch or dinner in the dining hall, and check out the general vibe on-campus. What are students talking about? Are they stressed out because of intense academics, or are they gearing up for the Friday night football game? Is there are football team? Do you care? What about fraternities and sororities? Do most of the students live on campus or is it more of a “commuter school? There are a lot of factors that make up the general “culture” of a college, and the students who go there.
Speaking of students, be sure to look around and check them out. What’s your feeling about them? Do you think you’d have anything in common with some of them? Go where lots of them congregate. Do they seem a lot more intellectual than you, or do they seem like frat party types, while you’re more of a nerd? We don’t want to necessarily jump to any rash conclusions, or engage in stereotypes, but the fact is that we usually make friends with others who share certain similarities, interests and values. And it’s nice to have friends in college.
You might want to drop by the department of your intended major. Pick up any information about the major they have. Most departments will have a major brochure, (and also a website you can check out later). Also just check out the office, the staff, faculty who wander through. Start up a conversation with a couple of students waiting in the office. What do they like about the college/major? What don’t they like? What’s on the bulletin board? Any interesting opportunities? You can learn a lot just by using your vast powers of observation.
Check out the class schedule and attend an interesting sounding class or two. You can always just sit in the back in a large lecture hall, or if it’s a small class, you can ask the prof if it’s OK for you to observe. Since you’re parachuting into an on-going class, don’t expect to understand the lecture necessarily, just observe and take it all in.
Repeat this process at the other schools you’re accepted to and want to consider attending. Sounds like a lot of work? Well, yes, but reasonably interesting and fun work, don’t you think? (Consider it sociological research? 🙂 Hopefully you’ll find the school that suits you best. But also remember, and relax … nine times out of ten, students love the school they pick!
Please feel free to talk to me anytime during this process. I’d like to hear how your research is going, and I can help you make this important decision. Good luck!
Due diligence is the key. See if you can do an overnight visit, where you can see what campus life is really like at the school. Make sure you sit in on some classes to get the “feel” of what it would really be like to go to college there. See what the surrounding town or urban area is like, how easy or difficult it is to get to the city a suburban college brags about being near.
If you know what major you want to pursue, meet with professors in the department. Make sure it has a robust, full program in your major. Will it meet your needs for all four years? Will you have enough opportunities to “do your thing” whether that means participating in performing arts programs or doing scientific research?
You are about to spend $200K. Make sure you will be spending it wisely.
Once accepted, students should seek their own information from the school in addition to what the admission office provides them. The admission office will host accepted student programs for admitted students, and these programs are wonderful ways to meet other potential classmates and gain general information about academic programs and extracurricular programs. However, the admissions office is trying to encourage you to deposit at their school among many choices. Therefore, you may not always get the most complete picture of the school. If the program includes visiting classes, you will probably be sent to classes with the most talented professors and teachers. If the program includes meeting current students, these students will likely be the ones who are among the most enthusiastic at the school.
After such a program, spend your own time on campus– unstructured time. Arrange a meeting with a professor in your intended major and ask about the program and sit in on a couple of classes in that major. Talk to students in that major.
Go to the dining hall or the student center and strike up a conversation with some students– ask about their experiences at the school. How well were they advised? How supportive were their teachers? How is the social life? Are their cliques or do students tend to extend themselves to others? Have their experiences been positive ones– why of why not.
Every school– every school– no matter how prestigious, has its strengths and weaknesses, and you should feel free going beyond the prescribed admissions programs to gather your own information about a school.
Social media is also useful. Consider communicating with current students via Facebook or Unigo.
All of these strategies will help you make an informed decision.
Now, you are holding all the cards!! The tables have turned–instead of you trying to impress the admissions office through your application, now the school has to make the right impression on you so that you will choose them! Take your time, focus on what is most important to you. Are dorms important? The food? How about the student to faculty ratio? Talking to students off the tour is a great way to get a feel for the school. Sit in on a class or spend the night. Whatever you do, make a considered decision, you have until May 1st!
With humility rather than a haughty attitude. Know & follow all the rules.
Congratulations on your acceptance letter! Vetting a school once you have been admitted requires honesty with yourself. There are many outside factors that influence a student’s choice to apply to a college. Now you are in the game for real and you need to get real about what elements of a good fit the school has for you. Filter out the extra noise of prestige, an hour closer to home, your best friend or worse foe has also been accepted.
Plan to schedule an overnight in the dorm and attend classes in a subject that interests you. Make sure that you have some solo time to explore campus on your own. Visit the book store and student cafe. Take a deep breath and introduce yourself to someone sitting in the cafe and ask them some general questions about classes and weekends. Do this more than once. Students love to talk about their schools. If you are not feeling like the person on the street interview then call admissions and ask for them to set you up with someone for a chat. Still undecided? Do the tour and info session again. What originally attracted you to the school? Again, be honest and filter out the noise to make sure that your reasons for attending are genuine.
At different points in time, families find the college search, application, and selection process akin to courtship. After acceptance, the entire wooing process shifts. Colleges roll out the red carpet for accepted student visits. When you approach a college visit as an accepted student, be wary of style over substance. Will it be as beautiful covered in three feet of snow as it is with freshly changed flower beds? The head of the department sounds amazing, but will I be able to get into her course? Before you visit, spend some time creating a list of 3-5 characteristics that really matter to you. Then, rate the visit on these qualities rather than allowing extraneous factors (like the way you felt when they introduced the band you play YOUR fight song or the “free” iPad you receive as an incoming freshman) to impede your view. Ultimately, keep in mind: will this school enable me to achieve my goals?
Congratulations! You now have the ball in your court, and you get to be the one who decides whether you will attend or not. if this is going to be your home for the next 4 years, then you need to be sure that it has what you need. The least important things are what your freshman dorm room looks like or whether the school offers round the clock excitement (which could be distracting!) What really matters is the people you will be living with, the accessibility of the professors if you are confused about something in class, and whether you will be comfortable with the classroom sizes and the overall “feel” of the campus. Trust your instincts, but don’t expect that everything will be perfect. Just know what you need to be happy, and choose among your schools for the one that can do that the best. And don’t panic! If you make a truly horrible choice, there’s always the option of transferring.
Pretend you are going to attend that college. Then visit classes, spend the night in a dorm with a current freshman or sophomore. Eat in the cafeteria, meet with different people on campus, and get a feel for what your life will be like. Remember that you will spend four years at this college. Do you think you may outgrow it? Can you change majors? Ask the key questions that matter. The admissions officers are there to help you decide so they will help connect you with all kinds of people. Also see who else you may know at the campuses to help make your visit truly personal.
Great question and one of the most overlooked strategies for really finding your best-fit college. Even if you’ve already visited the school in the past, you will want to go back and visit the top 2-3 schools you were accepted to. This time around, however, try to stay the night on campus somewhere (some college admission offices can set this up for you), definitely sit in on a few classes in the major you are interested in going into, eat a dining hall or two, and then hang around on campus to get a feel for what the students are like. You are about to spend the next four years of your life at college, so make sure you find the place that you truly want to be.
As an accepted student you should inquire about the possibility of an overnight campus visit, as opposed to a traditional 2-3 hour visit. An overnight visit is a great opportunity for you to see what happens outside the traditional class hours as well as meet many current students. You will also get a chance to see what dorm life is like and eat the food in the dining hall…two important factors in your decision-making process!
As an accepted student, you should ask freshman specific questions. During your visit, make sure you get an idea of where you will be living, eating, and studying. Getting a big picture of what your freshman year will look like will help you to know what to bring with you, making course scheduling decisions (AM vs PM), and it will give you a good view of what your time management will have to be.During the visit you should network and make a good impression; this will allow you to have a head start on making connections.
You should approach it in such a way as to get answers to every, single question on your pre-accept visit list that wasn’t answered during that first visit.
Sit in on a class. Speak to a professor in your major. Meet with financial aid. Find out what the orientation program is like. Dig deep and leave no stone unturned.
Visiting a college is much more about considering the details that will affect your day to day life and sussing out the truth behind the marketing and reputation.
Here is my original visit list from other answers here on Unigo. Make sure you have answered ALL of these questions to your satisfaction…
1. Observe the way that professors and administrators behave around students. Are the employees respectful of the students? Do they seem to enjoy interacting with them? Do they seem helpful and not dismissive of students with questions?
2. Consider the situations at Penn State and Rutgers. Consider your own ethics and then think about what questions you need to ask to learn about the ethics of the institution. For example, what is their student judicial system like? How have they handled bullying in the past? Do they have campus-wide programs in effect to increase inter-human sensitivity? How do they handle substance abuse issues? How do they deal with student conflict? What is their approach to handling student mental and emotional health issues? If a student is in crisis, and that crisis may reflect poorly on the institution, will the institution act on behalf of the student or will it cover up the crisis in order to protect the institution? Does the institution seem punitive or does it seem to approach jurisprudence as a learning opportunity? Don’t just ask them open ended questions, ask for specific examples.
3. Ask about their first-year student intake program. How are they going to ensure that you are socially integrated and academically supported? What are the mechanisms for students to confidentially express their fears and anxieties? Do they have an Early Alert system? If they don’t, what is their process for ensuring that no student falls through the cracks? If they do, is it one that is designed to truly help students who are struggling, or is it intended to seek out struggling students and punish them for buckling to the high pressures of college life?
4. Look at the “bricks and mortar.” Does the campus look well-cared for? Does it look safe? Lights in alleyways and hallways, etc. That stuff matters. But college is a place to learn. It’s not supposed to be the Golden Door Spa. Be aware that fancy, expensive residence hall facilities should make you question where your tuition and room and board money will be going — especially if it is an institution that is charging higher tuition and it has little or no endowment. It should be going to ensure that the academic facilities and equipment will prepare you to enter your profession. That’s what you’re going to college for.
5. Before you go, read the local newspapers online and see what’s mentioned about the college or university. Does the institution have a good reputation within the community? What is the relationship of the college to the surrounding community — “town and gown”? Is the college genuinely invested in the people and community that surround it, or are they simply taking up space, creating a universe of their own with no interest in bettering the world around them? Some institutions, such as Indiana University — Bloomington, are fully integrated into the community in every way, ethnically, socially, and economically. This integration creates a rich personal and professional experience with lots of real world possibilities for building a resume aimed at gaining employment upon graduating.
6. Listen closely and think critically. Make sure that the institution you are visiting is marketing itself HONESTLY through its tours and info sessions. For example,Tulane University is in New Orleans, which in its admissions tours touts its diversity. However, look around you on campus and you see virtually no evidence of varied ethnicities. Then drive to the other side of town and see a completely different, devastated community. Then remember the admissions officer telling you that their football team plays in the Superdome, which had housed all the people from the Ninth Ward. They have an almost billion dollar endowment, yet they accepted $135 million from FEMA post-Katrina to upgrade their data systems, yet the city is still devastated. Again, institutional ethics and truth in marketing — pay attention to what they are telling you, then pay closer attention to anything that supports or denies what they have said.
7. Before you go on your tour, research safety statistics and everything that’s been in the general news about the college. And when you are there, pick up a copy of the student newspaper — that’s where you will see what’s really going on. And learn about what’s being discussed at the Student Government Association meetings. Pay attention to what you find out about efforts students and student groups make to express their concerns to the college’s administration. What are the concerns being expressed and how are those concerns being responded to.
8. Ask where your tuition money and room and board goes. Better yet, ask to be directed to published information that details where your money will go.
9. Don’t ask what their average SAT score is, or their graduation rate, or their student/faculty ratio. You can find all that info online, even though it’s not very important. The fact is, you learn more from astute observation and research than you do from asking questions.
10. Four-to-five years is a long time to be someplace. Before you leave for your visits, you should read online the college’s Strategic Plan. When you visit the campus, check to see if there is evidence that the institution is moving actively in the direction its Strategic Plan indicates it wants to go.
11. Also research online where funding cuts are being made. If it’s a public institution you are looking at, research what kinds of funding cuts are being made to make up for reduced state funding. Many, many institutions around the country are being faced with having to pull back on programs or eliminate them completely. When you visit, talk to a professor or students and find out what the continued funding outlook is for their department. You don’t want to end up in a program that cannot keep up with it’s needs for educating you, or worse, in a program that is in danger of being eliminated. And make sure you research what they tell you — they may be trying to save their department by recruiting anyone and everyone. That doesn’t mean the department isn’t good, it just means they are struggling and you want to make certain that you understand the truth and possible outcomes of their struggles, because they will affect you.
12. Ask if tuition money is being spent to attract international students or if it is being used to help students such as yourself pay for college. How much money is being spent to recruit international students? Where is that money coming from? The latest statistics show that colleges are now spending more money on general marketing and marketing to international students than they are on scholarships for talented, low income students. Colleges claim that they recruit internationally because they want the diversity, but it’s just about the money. The fact is that there is plenty of diversity in this country that is not being served by our institutions of higher learning.
You should view the visit as if you were the student. What does a typical day look like? Eat in the cafeteria. shadow a student or sit in on a class. Put yourself in the shoes of a college student for that day. Can you picture yourself at that college?
While college visits early on in the process are to help you get a sense of what you’re looking for, approaching a college visit when trying to make a college decision is very different. If possible, the best way to assess a college to which you’ve been accepted is to plan an overnight visit. This will give you a chance to “immerse” yourself to the fullest into that college’s environment. Attend classes, speak to professors and students, eat in the dining halls, go to a club meeting if possible, etc. This is the best way to get a deeper sense of a school that you are seriously considering.
As an accepted student, you are in the driver’s seat. They are now trying to convince you to attend the school. Visit with a skeptical eye. Make sure that the tour guide or an admissions rep answers all of your questions. You are going to live there for 4 years, so you need to know what you are getting into. One of the statistics most colleges track is called yield; How many of the students they admit actually attend. Keeping this number high is important to the bottom line, so they are attentive to it. You still need to be polite and respectful, but remember you are the buyer here.
Once an institution has decided they want you, it’s time to dig even deeper. Many schools offer opportunities to visit again, stay overnight, all geared to a group of students at the same point in the decision process. If such an offer is not forthcoming, it is worth asking if there is a chance to do any of the above. The more you talk to people on campus, the more you see the campus at all times of the day/week, the better your knowledge base when you have to put down that deposit.
I ran campus visit programs for years and noticed major differences between prospective students on the tours and admitted students. Prospective student ,want to know about academic programs, majors, and if the college environment “feels right”.
Admitted students want to know more of the nitty-gritty. What’s the food like? Where will I live? How easy is it to register for classes? What if I don’t get along with my RA? Are the professors accessible? Will I make friends here? Try to picture yourself on that college campus. It’s not just about the education, it’s also about if you’ll like living there for the next four years. Try your best to have an authentic campus experience and, if you have the chance to stay in the residence halls, do it! There is no better way to find out if you’ll like living on that campus.
Be friendly, you will be with classmates. Pay specific attention to things that will specifically affect you.
As the April Crunch draws closer, high school seniors and their parents may focus on bells and whistles (and name) of universities when making their college selections, but often overlook the top ten things students should find out before committing to a college. Fixating on the dimensions of the dorm rooms, the collections at the library, the honors and study-abroad programs, or even the quality of the football team are all important aspects of the decision making process. However, high school seniors should also consider the fundamental aspects of the university. Before a student makes that final decision (and the parents write that deposit check), following are 10 things to consider before making a commitment:
1. The number of (outside major) requirements necessary degree completion. Graduation requirements vary widely from school to school, even within the same discipline. Some schools may seem impressive with their long list of requirements, but this might not seem so impressive when completing the core requirements prohbits students from taking elective courses.
2. How flexible are departmental or degree requirements? Schools that require specific courses, with no substitutions allowed, can really put you in a bind if the course is only offered once a year. Your best bet is to check to see that the school allows a choice of levels that satisfy the various requirements.
3. Find out how possible it is to get into the classes you want to take. In the past few years, college enrollments have risen but faculty sizes have not increased at the same rate, creating long wait-lists for some classes. Also, evaluate the student base to determine how the time the classes are offered affect how quicky they are filled. For example, if the school is a commuter school, chances are good the early morning classes will fill after the later classes have filled.
4. Know the rules and availability of the major you want to take. Do not assume that the college you are considering actually offers every major. It is critical to check the list of majors at the college, especially if you are interested in a more specific major. Also, determine if your chosen major is available only by application or to a limited number of students; some colleges do not open all majors to the entire student body, especially those that require talent or previous training, like music or art, or those that are extremely popular, like psychology or journalism. These majors may require another application process.
5. Be aware of a school’s writing requirement. The often dreaded “W Course” teaches students to prepare to write a college level.
6. Investigate whether — and how often — graduate students/TAs teach courses. At many state colleges and even some research universities, a significant number of instructors are graduate students/TAs who take direction from the actual professor. A class in which a regular professor gives the lectures and grad students lead discussion sections is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. However, a real issue arises at schools where grad students are allowed to teach entire courses on their own as both the lecturer and discussion leader.
7. Research the student/faculty ratio. If you attend a school with 5 to 10 students per faculty member, you’re likely to get a lot of individual attention from the faculty members than you would at the average state schools. Some students may thrive in a small and intimate setting, while other students prefer a larger learning environment.
8. Look into the percentage of students who graduate. The average graduate rate is 60 to 80 percent, but a graduation rate under 60 percent is something re-examine. An institution operating with the notion that fewer than 60 percent of the students enrolled do not graduate often leads to focusing resources on lower level lasses. At the same time, consider the average time it takes to obtain a degree. If you are planning on four years, make sure that most of the students at the school graduate in that timeframe. Otherwise, this could be a reg flag.
9. Know whether you’re required to take computer-taught or online classes. Many universities now use computer programs for course instruction or lectures posted online rather than live instructors. This budget-cutting method will certainly change the learning environment, especially when you are paying the same amount that you would for a real-life course.
10.The availability of first-year “experience” courses or college acclimation courses/weekends. The availability of these courses signify that the university cares about helping entering students acclimate to this huge change in their lives. It’s always nice to be in a place where you feel like you belong.
How does a high school senior find out the facts? Read all the literature the school sends you, as well as investigating college guides and rankings. Ask admissions officers or students who currently attend the school for their insights. The schools should help you since they want you to choose their school.
Remember, making the best informed decision requires you to investigate more than just what they serve at the cafeteria on weekends. Although make your own waffle bars can be hard to resist.
As a true consumer! This may be the single largest investment (besides the family home) that your family will be making. Ensure there is no buyer’s remorse.
This really depends on whether you have visited already. If you have already visited, and this is your second time on campus you are trying to get all of your questions answered and to see if you feel like you belong. Do you get a feeling like you could see yourself here? Do everything that you didn’t do the first time. For example, if you didn’t get to see a classroom etc. If this is your first visit you are looking to get an overall look at the school and do everything you can. I would suggest going on a guided tour the first day, then spend the night in town and check out restaurants and shopping. The next day show up unannounced and walk around on your own. Notice what students are doing. Go to the library, the student center and see whats up. If it is after 10 a.m. and the campus is dead this could be a sign that students aren’t very active on campus and that they stay inside. But it is also a good idea to talk to a student. Ask them some questions and get their perspective. You really just want to observe anything you can, and it is not a bad idea to take pictures so you will remember what you saw that day.
Once the schools have made their decisions the pendulum swings to the other side. Where all the anxiety once rested with the applicant, now admissions directors sweat out the student decision making process. If you did things right the places that accepted you should fit your basic profile, all offering the college experience and programs you seek. Consequently your visit, like the whole decision making process, should be aimed at determining if a place is the best fit, the most comfortable, the place where you will grow the most and be best able to maximize your ambitions. Can you see yourself there for the next four years? Now it is up to you.
Once you have been admitted to a college, you will look at it with a very different lens and you should! No longer is the question “Can I get in?” but now you are asking “Do I want to go there?” When you visit a school as an admitted student, the visit should be very different. No more campus tours and info sessions for you! Instead look and see if the school hosts an Accepted Student Open House or Visit Program. See if you can spend the night with a current student and attend classes in your area of interest. Ask lots of questions, find out about scholarship monies or financial aid. Talk to friends of yours who may attend. Talk with your school counselor, and your parents… Try your best to gather as much information as possible to give you an idea of what your experience would be like there.
many colleges will provide accepted students with open house opportunity to learn more about campus and academis. you may ask for specific arrangements to learn more, it worst case is no but still you have more access to learn the schools.
Go to accepted student days, but be discerning. They are rolling out the red carpet for you, so realize this is not reality.
Imagine yourself as a student there. Do everything you can to increase your awareness of life as a student at that college: the classes and workload, the peers and professors, the social life and extra-curricular activities. Talk to students, talk to professors in the fields that interest you, talk to coaches, visit the places where you would engage in other activities – like the studios, the office of the student union. Eat the food. Research something in the library and see whether there’s help within easy reach. Breathe in the atmosphere. Can you see yourself spending four years at this college, with these people, engaged fully at this college?
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