A successful college career not only depends upon your academic abilities, but on whether or not your school is a good “fit” for you The only way to truly address fit is by visiting campus.
Ideally, campus visits happen in the spring or fall before you apply for admissions, but this step in the admissions process can be cumbersome due to a number of factors, including travel, associated costs, and scheduling. If your campus visit options are limited, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to maximize your trip.
1. Check out Official Campus Visit Days. If possible, try to coordinate your trip with designated campus visit days organized by the Admissions Office. Doing so will save you a lot of leg work in the planning process, and can often include appointments or access to exclusive prospective student events. Don’t forget to register for such visits or schools may not be able to accommodate you.
2. Notify the Admissions Office. They can assist you in planning your visit, including setting up meetings with the financial aid office or faculty, arrange for you to sit in on a class, and even let you do your admissions interview (if required) on site.
3. Go to an event. Whether it’s a basketball game, a student organization meeting, or performing arts show, try and find an activity that piques your interest. Doing so will give you an idea of what student life is like on campus and what you might find yourself doing if you were a student there.
4. Take an official tour. Virtually all colleges offer a campus tour led by a student that will get you access to places you won’t have on your own, like residence halls, labs, athletic facilities, health centers, etc. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to talk to a current student about their experience.
5. Eat the food. As a first-year student, you’ll most likely be eating in the dining hall(s) for most of your meals. Many colleges have upped their game when it comes to their food offerings, so take some time to check out your dining options to make sure your dietary needs will be met.
6. Talk to a professor. You’re going to school to get an education, after all. Meeting with a faculty member or academic administrator will give you an idea of what you can expect in regards to rigor and if their academic programs are focused on theory or application (i.e. how/why something happens or works versus doing or making something happen).
If you’re not able to visit campus, there are a few things you can do to get a feel whether or not a school is a good fit for you. Many colleges and universities host local events for prospective students. Even though you won’t be able to get an in-person perspective on what it is like to be a student, you will get the opportunity to meet admissions staff and ask them all of your question that you would on campus. You can also speak with an alumnus, ideally someone who majored in your intended area of study. When going with this route, it’s a good idea chat with someone who graduate within last five years, otherwise their experience may not be an accurate portrayal of current campus life.