Many college-bound sophomores and juniors are visiting campuses in March and April during Spring Break. Those campus visits are an important step in the college admissions process and can shape the application process in surprising ways. Given that many colleges will also have “Admitted Student” events in March and April, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for times when prospective students can visit.
These visits are informational so they offer a great opportunity to learn as much as you can about the admissions process and envision your college experience. Because you visit doesn’t mean you must apply. Again, you’re going to gather information. With that in mind, I suggest that you:
- Visit colleges of varying enrollments so that you understand whether size matters – When you’re reading about campuses on-line, it’s sometimes difficult to get a feel for the size. Also, the physical space of the campus may attribute either a “small” or “big” feel moreso than the enrollment numbers suggest. Depending on the urban-ness or rural-ness of a campus, it can feel more “big” or “small” when you visit in person.
Once your schedule is set, use these tips for a successful visit:
- Remember that you are being “interviewed” at all times when you tour a college campus – Even if you’re not in a formal, one-on-one meeting with an admissions officer or faculty member, when you set foot on the campus, consider it as a 2-3 hour interview. With that being said, it’s important to be on “good” behavior. For some colleges, these visits are recorded as “demonstrated interest” and may matter in the application process.
- Tour the campus alone or with parents/siblings. Do not visit with your high school sweetheart. – I have actually been on visits where students are there with a sweetheart hanging on to their every hip move. Think about how this looks. Not to mention that the visit can be short-changed by your sweetheart’s impression of the campus.
- Check out the neighborhood surrounding the college campus. If you’re not comfortable there, perhaps that’s a sign! – Many college campuses are shaped by the neighborhoods surrounding them. Some neighborhoods are good and some . . . not so good. Prospective students should feel comfortable with the surrounding area because the on-campus life is often intertwined with off-campus life.
- Always ask questions during your visit and any interview – Researching the college prior to your visit almost always generates more questions than it answers. Information from the website and viewbooks can be confirmed during your campus visit. For example, you can ask about parking conditions, security, food quality, dorm life, etc. There are a number of other topics or concerns that will occur in the moment as you’re listening to a tour guide or interviewer. Don’t be afraid to ask away. Asking demonstrates your interest even further.
Throughout the year, I visit dozens of college campuses and learn something new every time. I try to take plenty of photos to share with families. You can find photos from those visits, like the example below, on our Flickr page.
I’m always happy to share notes on these campus visits. Please contact us today to discuss where you’re visiting and how to make the most of your campus visits.