You may be visiting a few colleges in the coming weeks and months. The college visit is an important way to decide how you feel about the schools you’re applying to, and to pick up information that will help make your applications stronger.
Follow our tips for more productive college visits.
1) Plan in advance. When scheduling your college visits, check out each college admissions website a couple of weeks in advance to find out what visit options they offer, and how to sign up for them. You might find out that you can have an interview, sit in on a class, or spend the night in a dormitory. Options vary, but you’ll never know if you don’t look on their website or give them a call. Besides, you want to be sure that there’ll be a tour and information session on the day you go. And if you’re planning to drive, make sure to look up about parking on campus!
2) Know where you’re going. Few things are more frustrating than getting lost. Make sure that you not only have printed directions to the college (your GPS won’t work everywhere), but that you also know exactly where to find the Admissions Office on campus. A little research can go a long way toward making your visit stress-free.
3) Be comfortable. On a college visit, you could end up doing a lot of walking. Wear comfortable clothes, and shoes that you won’t mind walking in for an hour or more. It’s also a good idea to check the weather report and be prepared for rain, cold, snow, or extreme heat. If your feet hurt after the tour, or your clothes are soaked from the rain, you’ll be less likely to enjoy your visit, which will affect how you feel about the school.
3) Go beyond the prescribed options. Most colleges will offer a college tour and information session. It’s important to take some time to wander around the campus on your own. Grab lunch in the dining hall or hang out in the student center. See if you can explore the library or athletic center (if those are of interest to you). Most important, don’t be afraid to ask random students how they feel about their school. They may provide a different perspective than your official tour guide.
4) Take notes (and pictures)! If you’re going on a whirlwind tour of 5 colleges in one week, you may have trouble remembering all of the details. Take notes at each college of things that stand out, and that you want to remember. Take a few pictures, as well. Visual aids can go a long way toward triggering your memory and helping you reflect on your visits.
Visiting colleges is an important part of the application process. Your perceptions will have a lot of impact on your applications, and your decisions to apply to certain colleges. Following our advice will not only help you collect the best information, but also get you through your visits with as little stress and hassle as possible.
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