College visits are an important component of your college search process. It’s an opportunity to experience first hand what it feels like to be on campus. The vibe you’ll get from each visit helps to shape your college list and perhaps helps identify and solidify your Restrictive Early Action or Early Decision schools. So, don’t take your visit lightly.
To make the most of your visits, do the following:
1. Register for a campus tour and admissions information session. You can find them under the Admissions webpage and then visit. This is pretty standard for most colleges/universities. Do this a month/two in advance!!
2. Knowing your visit date, you can now reach out to faculty in the academic department in which you aspire to study or have an interest in. Write to 2-3 faculty to request for a brief visit with them as your interests align with their teaching and research. The odds of all 3 faculty members being available is unlikely, but most faculty will be thrilled to chat and share their work with you.
3. Allocate enough time to visit and experience the surrounding areas, such as local shops, restaurants, etc. to gauge your comfort level for small towns, medium or large cities. Pay attention to how locals interact with students/visitors, as it can help to inform your school choice.
4. Do your research on the schools before your visits. Arrive with prepared questions for the tour guides, whom for the most part will be current undergraduate students. Ask them a variety of questions ranging from their first-year experience, research opportunity, faculty engagement, athletics, Greek life (Fraternities & Sororities), social life, and etc. Ask admissions officers about what makes a student stand out in a pool of similarly qualified students and what they value in their admitted class. Asking more insightful questions will serve you well, as there are way too many stressed out students and parents asking about SAT/ACT scores. Data on volume of applications, number of admits and enrolled students along with average SAT/ACT can be easily obtained from the Admissions Webpage under Entering Class Profile. Do your research prior to the visit!!
5. The time frame for college visits:
Application year students should plan to visit during the Spring of their Junior Year all the way up to the Fall of their Senior Year. Do initial visits during the Spring and Summer to be followed up by 1-2 overnight visits to potential REA/ED schools in the fall as these tend to provide a more immersive experience. Overnight visits are packed with opportunity to experience living and dining in the residence halls, sit in on classes, and engage with a whole host of people. It’s an authentic opportunity to be a student for a day or two.