Planning Your College Visit: What to Know This Summer

Make your college visit a success!

Make your college visit a success!

It’s time to start thinking about college and with that comes the planning out of all your college visits.

Local colleges and universities can be toured in a day visit; even on a morning or afternoon off from school. For schools that are farther away visiting becomes a bit more of a challenge, but can still be accomplished.  Long weekends, school vacations and even summer months are times when you and your parents can plan to visit college campuses and see what each potential college has to offer you as a student. 

It is always best to go prepared; so here are the most important tips you need when going to visit a college or university.

6 Tips to Make Your College Visit Successful

1. Sit in on a class.

It is essential that you sit in on a class if at all possible. This will give you a sense of what teaching methods the college embraces, what their class size is like and how much work is given in the particular field of study in which you are interested. If you can arrange it, a shadow day with a campus freshmen would be an amazing experience and a great way for you to get a sense of the academic nature of the school.

2. Read campus material.

Get your hands on a student publication! If you want the true feel of the campus, read what the students themselves have to say. Student newspapers and magazines often give you a flavor of what the tone of the campus truly is. If all the articles are negative and anti-administration, it may not be a happy place to spend four years. You will also come away with a sense of what the social life at the school is truly like. The newspaper is a worthwhile read!

3. Hang out with actual students.

Party on! If you can convince your parents, try to attend a social function at the college. This is not to say that you should sign up to attend a fraternity party, but a poetry reading,  performance, art show, athletic event, or a coffee house gathering are all wonderful ways to get a sense of the pulse of the school. 

4. Consider an overnight trip.

Many schools will arrange for you to spend a night in the dorms with one of the students. Or, if you know a current student on the campus, you yourself can arrange for an overnight visit.  While one night is not the same as being away from home from September until Thanksgiving, it will give you a tiny taste of dorm life!

5. Get a sense of the local area.

It goes without saying that you and your parents will take a tour of the campus and ask the questions that you want to be answered about the school itself. But, your life on a college campus does not pertain to that campus alone. What’s the town like?  Are you living in the heart of a big city, or will sunshine and roosters wake you in the early morning?

Get a sense of the town itself; its nightlife, it's dynamic and its… dare I say it… employment opportunities! You may want a part-time job, an internship, or a volunteer role while you are at college and the town in which you reside would be where you head to find those positions. And besides, where else would you be going Christmas shopping before heading back home?!

6. Explore all parts of the campus.

What exactly is available on campus? Are you a Starbuck fanatic and they only have a Dunkin Donuts? Is there cafeteria vegan-friendly?  Does the bookstore charge $5.00 for a pencil? 

Get a sense of the costs of day to day life on the campus. While some things will be covered in your meal plan, many of the things you are used to having accessible on a day to day basis at home will now have to be purchased on campus. So, check out those prices and do some comparison shopping from campus to campus!

All of this and more has to be taken into consideration when choosing the right college. Visiting early and revisiting those schools that you liked best will help you make an informed decision when it comes to going away to college!