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.
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.
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.
Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.
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