What should I make sure to do and see on a college visit aside from the tour?
If at all possible, sit in on a class or two and eat a meal in the student union.
If you are on an organized college tour that will be visiting a series of colleges, your time will be relatively strictly scheduled. You will probably sit in on an information session and be taken on a tour of the institution. You may also have time scheduled for a meal at one of the campus dining facilities. Otherwise, you will not have much, if any, time for any independent investigation.
Assuming that you are on an individual college visit, however, you will be able to organize your time to suit you. During the campus tour, you will probably be taken to various academic facilities, sports facilities, the student center, performance or art facilities, dormitories, the library, the bookstore, etc. You will also be shown any outstanding campus landmarks and will be told about some of the campus “legends” or customs. The tours are usually quite comprehensive, but will not allow you to spend much time at each location.
Plan to attend an information session. Many of your questions will be answered during the presentation, and at the Q&A period at the end of the session, you can ask further questions if some areas are still unclear.
If the college requires or recommends an interview, set up an appointment before your visit. You might find that having an interview appointment after the information session and the tour will give you more confidence in the interview. On the other hand, you may want to schedule the appointment to take place at the beginning of your visit before you’re hot and tired from the information session and the tour. That’s, of course, up to you.
At the beginning of the college search process, you should have done some serious soul-searching into what you hope to gain from your college experience. If you have extra time on campus, investigate the campus offerings which address the aspects you’ve identified as being important to you. Outside of the tour and the information session, what a student chooses to do and see while visiting a college will hinge on what his/her personal interests are and what direction he/she hopes to follow at the college. Some things you might choose to do are:
– Go back to any of the sites visited on the tour at which you would like to spend more time. Access to some of the sites is only possible while on an organized tour, however.
– Arrange to have lunch at one of the dining facilities.
– If school is in session, talk to current students about their impressions of the school.
– If school is in session, attend a student performance, sports activity, or art exhibit.
– Have an interview with a coach in the sport you’d like to pursue at college. Be sure to make the appointment ahead of time while planning your campus visit. Be well prepared so that you can find out as much as possible about relevant sports programs, as well as present yourself in a positive light.
– Have an interview with a professor or professors in the field(s) in which you’re interested. Again, be sure to make the appointment ahead of time, while planning your campus visit. If you have scheduled interviews, be well prepared for them. You don’t want to waste the time of the person which whom you will be speaking.
– Just wander around campus, getting a feel for the environment.
Visiting a campus is one of the best ways to determine whether that college will be the right choice for you. Make an effort to find out as much as possible during that visit.
I like to eat in the cafeteria; both to taste the food as well as rub elbows with current students. Check out the bulletin boards, pick up a copy of the school newspaper, explore the “off campus” options. If you can make an appointment with a faculty member in your area of interest, bonus! An overnight can be a plus because that’s often when the campus comes alive. Don’t rush your visit if the school is a strong contender. Take time to sit in on a class, attend a sporting event, see a production on campus. This could be your home for the next 4+ years so you want to know you’ll be comfortable there.
I encourage all students to build a little extra time into their college visit schedule to explore beyond the typical tour. Students can attend a sporting event (check out school spirit!), go to a campus event (musical performance, gallery opening, open mic, etc.) or meet with key people that will help to impact your final decision, such as learning support specialists, coaches, etc. Finally, get a bite to eat on campus – it will give you the opportunity to casually observe and potentially (hopefully!) interact with students.
Have a meal in the cafeteria.
Check out a dorm or 2.
Talk to current students to get some specific questions answered.
Visit the town if the school is in an isolated or small town setting.
Try to meet with a professor or 2 in your area of study, because you did research in advance and have tentative appt’s.
If you’ll have a car, find out the parking fees & where the lot(s) are located in relation to the dorms.
If you’re Greek minded, check out some frat or sorority houses.
Naturally, you’ll have other things to see that were on your list – you better have one!
In addition to the tour, try and do some or all of the following:
– Attend an info session
– Eat a meal on campus
– Read the school newspaper
– Talk to students and faculty
– Sit in on a class
– Stay overnight
– Have an interview
– Visit the surrounding neighborhood
– Talk with the financial aid office
– Meet with “key” personnel based on your needs/interests
– Take notes and photos.
After your campus tour you should set aside some time to just wander and explore. You should make sure to stop in places such as the food court or dining hall so you can see how students interact with one another and what the general mood is on campus. If you’re planning to live on campus you’ll want to see the dorms. If this isn’t included in your tour, you should ask someone in the Admission Office if it’s possible to see a room before you leave. Another important thing to do during your visit is to eat the food! Many schools include lunch in the dining hall as part of your tour but, if it’s not included, just ask in the Admission Office if you can head over there on your own to eat.
Begin by scheduling your visit through the admissions office. Often you will be given the opportunity to attend and information session and possibly presentations by particular departments or schools. Next, take time to see parts of campus not shown on the tour and the surrounding area. You may find a beautiful campus situated in a bad neighborhood. Take time to talk to people you meet – students, professors, and staff. Pick up a copy of the student newspaper and find out what issues have students talking. Finally, ask the admissions office to let you eat in the regular cafeteria, not the fancy food court and try to experience campus as you would as a freshman.
You should sample the food in the cafeteria and listen in on what students are talking about and how they are interacting. Stop random students and ask questions about campus life on the weekends, what are the best dorms and what they like and don’t like about their college experience.Grab a student newspaper which can often be very revealing about the campus culture. Try to explore the surrounding area around the college which can be a deal-breaker. If you can arrange in advance of your visit to meet with a faculty member from the department in which you are interested, that can be time well spent. Also, try to arrange to sit in on a class. If you are fortunate enough to personally meet with a faculty representative from your desired department, make sure to get her contact information so that you can send a thank you note or e-mail for her time.
On campus, try to sit in on a class. This typically is not part of an info session and tour, but many schools do have this as ad “add on.” If a school has this option do it, same with having lunch with a current student. Explore what the school has to offer in as many ways that you can while you are there as you may only get to visit once. Off campus, try to check out the town or city around the campus. Are there things to do (and does this matter to you?) or is the campus itself the only place where the action is nearby? Is it easy to get to, is there an airport and or train station nearby if you are someone that wants to be able to travel/visit home easily? You need to be able to see yourself spending four year there so get off campus and make sure to check out your surroundings.
If you don’t get to see a dorm on the tour, see if there’s any way you can glance into one (you can often just ask a random student if you can take a quick peek into his or her room). Look around the area immediately adjoining campus to see what types of stores, restaurants and services are within walking distance. If there’s any specific academic area you’re interested in that you didn’t get to visit on the tour (i.e., the engineering quad or the music building), try and take a look at it.
Make sure you visit the financial aid office to see if there is money available that you weren’t aware of, and make sure you visit the cafeteria to see if you like the food.
Make sure you visit the financial aid office to see if there is money available that you weren’t aware of, and make sure you visit the cafeteria to see if you like the food. Look at a campus newspaper and check out campus bulletin boards,wander through snack bars and student centers and observe how students interact with each other.
I would try to get to know the campus and area around the college as well as possible. You can eat in the cafeteria. You can visit classes or meet with professors. You can even spend a night in the dorms with a current student. You can meet with college officials, attend athletic events, and walk around the campus and speak with students. Do your research and explore the area around the campus—restaurants, stores, etc. See if the campus has any special programs targeted to your interests, culture, and academic passions.
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