Advice and information on campus visits abounds, and some of it is very good. But the importance of preparing for a thorough and information-filled visit cannot be overstated. After all, for the busy, pressured high school junior or senior, time is a most valuable asset and can’t be wasted on a meaningless visit. So, I’ll share my advice that I have not seen posted in most articles on college visits.
Know What You’re Looking For in Your Campus Visits
Your visit has one primary purpose: To learn if the campus culture and community is a fit for you. Most every other question or concern you have about a college or university can be answered via their website, a phone conversation, from other’s advice. However, nothing but a visit can give you the sense of belonging that a visit can. But it is not a decision made on just a “feeling.” You have to know what you’re searching for. Here are a few major factors.
What is the Campus Culture?
What is the campus culture that fits you best? Consider what you want in regard to the following:
What am I looking for in out-of-class activities, clubs, new experiences and skills? How do I want to spend my free time? What social environment appeals to me?
What do students talk about? What are their concerns? Do they fit how I see myself?
Does the Teaching Style Fit My Learning Style?
Know your preferred learning style, then seek to find out if the faculty teach to your style or not. The best way to do that is to talk to a faculty member, preferably one in your field of interest. Of course, not all faculty will teach the same way, but you will learn a great deal in a brief interview with an informed faculty member.
Is This My Kind of Community?
Part of the reason to attend college is to explore and test out new environments. Yet, you will thrive in a community that is consistent with your values, goals and aspirations. Even though the college environment is new to you, seek out the sense of belonging that you feel. Is this the type of person I want to be? Are these people I can envision as my colleagues and friends. Is the learning atmosphere consistent with my dreams? Does this feel like I belong here?
How Do I Get This Information?
There are several activities you must participate in on your visit. Contact the Admissions office to arrange all of this.
- Meet your admissions counselor
- Meet with a faculty member in your major (or close to it)
- Talk with random students asking them what they love and don’t love about campus
- Get a tour
- Sit in on the Admissions presentation if there is one
- Visit the Career Planning office if at all possible
- Check out the student housing that surrounds the campus
This all should take you 3 to 4 hours, no less. Take notes. Take pictures. Write down to remember: What I like about this campus, what I don’t like about this campus. You will be glad you did.