If you’re applying to college this fall or next fall, you may still have some college visits planned for the coming months. Visiting colleges before you apply, and certainly before you’re admitted, is important for several reasons.
First, you won’t really know how you feel about a place until you’ve been there. College is an actual place where you will live and study for four years, so you should probably check it out to make sure you like it before submitting an application. A college might look great on the website and in guidebooks, and you may have heard great things from your friends, but you might feel differently when you get there.
Visiting colleges can also help you in the admissions process. Some colleges consider “demonstrated interest” as a factor in making admissions decisions. Visiting a college, so long as there is a record of that visit in the Admissions Office, is one form of demonstrated interest. And while some admissions offices will be more impressed if you come to visit from far away than if you live down the street, the college down the street from where you live might question why you haven’t visited. In any event, your best bet is to pay schools a visit if you can.
Finally, college visits will help you refine your college search. If you started your college search convinced you wanted to go to a big school – go visit a big school! You may love the feel, or you might realize that by a big school you meant you just wanted to go somewhere bigger than your high school. After a few visits, you’ll get a sense of what it means to be a rural or urban school, a liberal arts college or research institution, and feel more confident about your personal criteria for choosing colleges.