3 Tips for Making the Most Out of a College Visit
College is a big deal. All the years of academic study, from grade school through high school, will culminate with your acceptance into college. It’s a place where you’ll live and become educated at the highest level for four years, totaling nearly $90,000 (for the average in-state public college), according to a College Board report out last October.
The goal, of course, is for you to leave fully equipped with everything you need to pursue a successful career in your area of study. If you really take a moment to contemplate the magnitude of this commitment—four years, $90k in college savings, preparation for the rest of your life— then it’s clear why selecting the right college likely will be the most significant decision of your young life.
At this point, you’ve probably carefully reviewed the program and campus information online, and read all the informational pieces sent to your home. Now, you are ready to enter the final stage—the campus visit. Here are three tips that can help you make the most out of your college visit.
Schedule Your Visit Like a Pro.
Advance planning is important. Why? Well, in addition to reserving a campus tour, you also should arrange for several other engagements.
For instance, it is recommended that you meet with an admissions officer and professor in your area of interest, attend a lecture, participate in a student club activity and perhaps even spend the night in campus housing.
The best time to schedule your visit is when classes are in session, and the campus is bustling with activity. This will give you the most authentic taste of the daily university profile.
Don’t Be Shy. Go Explore.
Standard campus tours are great for learning about the basics. But if you really want to peel back the layers and tap into true student experiences, you must venture out on your own.
Hang out in a campus gathering area and ask students questions you might have about programs, campus life, extracurricular activities, facilities, housing, summer storage, etc. Their responses will be genuine and non-scripted, providing you with great insider information.
After speaking with students, continue to explore your surroundings: Eat in the dining hall, visit facilities/buildings you weren’t shown during the general tour, read bulletin boards and the school newspaper, attend an on-campus event and also make sure to check out the area just outside the campus perimeter.
Create a Campus Portrait.
It’s also a good idea to create a record of your trip. The easiest way to do this, of course, is by taking pictures. Snap photos of anything and everything that interests you. This will help you recall the sights and activities of your trip with complete accuracy.
Also, carry a small notepad (or use the note application in your phone) so you can write down your thoughts during your tour, the responses of students, or any lingering questions you would like answered before you leave.
After visiting several campuses, you will have a nice collection of photos and recorded thoughts, allowing you to effectively compare your college visits.
Attending college is a cherished opportunity, valued privilege and a worthy responsibility. Many people say their college years were some of the best of their lives, a time when they experienced fundamental self-discovery, made lifelong friends, and built the beginnings of what would become their future careers.
You should now be prepared to make the most out of your college visits. Before you know it, you will be packing for college and setting out to have the time of your life.
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