How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?

Go to accepted student days, but be discerning. They are rolling out the red carpet for you, so realize this is not reality.

Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Top ten things to consider before sending your college responses for admission - due May 1

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.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Be A Consumer

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.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Accepted Student Visit

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.

Phil Kerlee
Owner Kerlee & Associates

You are in the driver's seat

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.

Helen Cella

How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?

Be friendly, you will be with classmates. Pay specific attention to things that will specifically affect you.

Aviva Walls

Can I live here?

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.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Accepted and Visiting--Can You See Yourself There?

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.

Lauren Carter
Director of College Counseling Louisville Collegiate School

Look at your accepted college up close and personal

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.

Mollie Reznick
Associate Director The College Connection

How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?

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.