Colleges and universities each have their own vibe and character, so there is no better way to assess whether or not a campus is a good fit for you than visiting it! While it may not be feasible to visit every school on your list, make priorities. Visit your top choices - for sure - this way you will know if they are worthy of the top choice billing you have assigned them. Also, if your list is comprised of colleges in various settings, locations and sizes, try to have your visits sample from all over the menu. Lastly, many schools track something referred to as demonstrated interest, and a visit is one of the optimum ways of expressing this.
Here are some pointers for maximizing your time on campus.
1) Visit at the right time of the year. The absolute best time is when the school is in session and the campus is bustling. If some of your visits need to happen over the summer, just remember that a summertime visit will reflect a campus which is more subdued. If you really enjoy your summer visit, try and go back a second time when classes are in session. This way you can see the campus in all its dynamic glory. Weather is another factor to consider. The tenor of some schools may really resonate with you - on paper. But if that school is in a extremely cold climate or one that stays seasonally consistent all year long, visit the cold school in the winter, and consider if the cold or snow is a factor, and do the same for the other; will you miss the seasons? Truly consider what it is going to be like.
2) While on campus, don’t just take a tour and sit through an information session. For sure your tour guide will share some great insights about the school and personal anecdotes about his or her experiences, but they are tour guides….. Do more. Speak with some students. Ask them about their experiences and what they see as the pros and cons about their campus. Know what’s important to YOU and ask about those things! If you’re a theater kid, ask about that. If you want to play club sports, ask about that. If you like small classes or accessible professors, those are the questions you should ask. The tour guides are great, but get as many perspectives as you can to paint a full picture.
3) Eat in the dining hall. Visit the school store. Pick up a copy of the campus newspaper and bum around the student union. Look at the flyers that are posted about upcoming events, and listen to the chatter around you. What are the students - your future peers - passionate about? What’s the pulse of the campus - does it dovetail with the types of things you see yourself participating in as a student?
4) Know the school before you arrive, and better yet, use that knowledge to craft some insightful questions. If you get the chance to speak with an admissions counselor or professor, you want to sound knowledgeable and you want to sound enthusiastic! You don’t want to ask anything obvious or easily discovered by a quick Google search.
5) Keep a clear, detailed record of your visit. You may think, “I won’t forget the internships they discussed during my information session,” or “I’ll remember what that student told me about the guest speakers and concerts she attended and enjoyed.” You might and you might not, and other smaller details may just blend together after a number of visits to different schools. But, if you keep a written record of each visit, then those details will be fresh when you begin your applications and who knows, maybe one of them will be the one that makes your essay stand out.
Every campus visit should count, and these pointers are some simple ways to attain this goal. At College&Prep our objective is to show you how to maximize all the interactions you have with campus representatives and help you to build a memorable and effective profile and application. Each aspect of the college admissions process can be compelling and persuasive, and at College&Prep we will not only show you how to achieve this outcome, but we will support your efforts at every turn.
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