With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about which colleges you may want to visit. An in person visit really is the best way of assessing your interest in a particular institution. Nothing is better than seeing the students and campus facilities first-hand. There is so much to be learned from such a visit. You will want to get a sense of how your life could change when you move on-campus. A visit can tell you if location matters, if you enjoy the local climate, or if you can easily gain access to the beach or mountains. Throughout high school, look ahead to your university future; the summers between 9th and 10th grade and 10th and 11th grade can be wonderful introductions to a campus community. In this piece, we will look at three different types of visits and how they differ from one another.
Looking around: This visit is geared towards early information gathering. It is frequently included in a family vacation to the area. Parents may encourage their children to visit their alma mater as well as any colleges in the area when visiting family or friends. These trips may not include a personalized visit with scheduled campus tours, information sessions or Open Days. It should, however, include a walk around campus, a meal in a dining hall, a visit to the library and a chat with students you see out and about. Always drop into the Admissions Office to pick up materials and find out who your local representative is. This general visit will also help you craft a list of questions that can be refined over the coming months and years. Your goal in these early forays should be to figure out which aspects of the university campus experience really matter. Examine the size of the student body, clubs and organizations of specific interest, and scope of academic options. Above all, take good notes.
Serious shopping: As you progress through high school, you will begin to acquire a deeper understanding of the importance of standardized testing, your academic interests, and a sense of what kind of campus would suit you best. Those early campus visits will come in handy when zeroing in on specifics. By late junior year, you’ll have attended a few college fairs, spoken to your college counselor, and created a college list with your top choices. Do a lot of online research the summer before senior year and, in consultation with your parents, make reservations for student led campus tours and admission presentations. Make an appointment to meet with a financial aid counselor, the writing center, disability services and academic support. Check out ease of access to medical care, mental health counseling, faith communities, and on and off-campus transportation. Consider safety at night, and ensure that the dining halls cater to your individual dietary needs. If possible, attend a class within your likely first choice of major. These visits should refine the list of colleges to which you will apply, so take them seriously.
Ready to buy: Being ‘ready to buy’ typically means that an offer of admission is on the table, and you need to make your final decision. It may also mean you need to clarify your top 5-8, and thus are ready when offers arrive. It is true that many students apply to several colleges without ever setting foot on campus but with a tangible offer, a targeted visit then becomes an absolute must. There are always Admitted Student Visit Days, typically in April before the National College Decision Day of May 1. Colleges will pull out all the stops for these visits that are 100% geared towards the needs and interests of admitted students and their families. The student-focused program will include classroom visits and chats with faculty. Parents will often have their own version of the events, most often with a presentation by the Financial Aid Officers. All this should help you make a final decision.
The “right college” is unique to every student’s needs, interests, aspirations, and personality, but Marie can help you find that perfect fit. Schedule a 20 minute discovery call with Marie today.