One of the best ways to get to know a college is by visiting its campus. This gives you the opportunity to observe silently from the sidelines, as well as interact with students and faculty. Even colleges that have amazing websites and awesome reputations may not have the campus atmosphere you’re looking for. There’s only one way to find out!
Helpful Tips for Your Next Campus Visit
Contact the college ahead of time to arrange a visit. You’ll get much more out of your campus visit if you’re able to take part in a guided tour. By calling ahead of time you can schedule a tour and set up any other appointments that you may wish to attend.
Do your research. Before visiting any campus you should perform thorough research of the college to help you come up with questions for faculty and students. If you’ve done proper research you won’t be wasting their time asking questions that could’ve easily been answered at their website.
Meet with a professor. Ask if there are any professors available in your preferred field of study that you can interview. Find out what it is that they like about the college and ask them what types of teaching methods they use. This is also a great time to find out if professors are typically available after hours for tutoring or questions.
Eat lunch in the cafeteria. One way to get a good feel for campus life is by spending an hour in the cafeteria. Many colleges will offer you a free meal ticket during campus visits to allow you to do this free of charge. Try to go right at noon if you can so that you can experience the cafeteria in all its glory during the busiest time of day. Take note of the types of food offered, including any healthy options if this is important to you. Also, make a point to watch the other students in the cafeteria. Are most of them socializing with friends, or do they tend to have their noses in books and homework while they eat? Are professors eating off by themselves, or do they intermingle with the students as well?
Attend a class. If you know what you plan on studying, ask if you can attend an upper level class that corresponds with your intended major. Take note of the class size and whether or not students are able to get any one-on-one help from their professor. Chat with surrounding students prior to the class and ask them if this particular class is a good indication of what other classes on campus will be like as well.
Go off the beaten path. Even if you’re signed up to participate in a tour, take time to yourself afterwards to explore areas of the campus that your tour may not have covered. You never know what hidden gems (or travesties) you might discover.
Spend the night on campus. Even if you don’t plan on living in the dorms, this gives you a great opportunity to interact with the students. You can ask them any questions that may not have been answered during the tour. Also be sure to ask them if there’s anything they wish they would have known before attending college. They’ll likely have insight into things you never would’ve thought to ask about.
Explore the community. When you’re not on campus or at home you’re going to be spending the rest of your time in the community. Make sure it’s an area where you feel safe and wouldn’t mind living for several years.
Send a “thank you” note. After your campus visit, be sure to send a “thank you” in writing to the faculty members you interacted with while you were there. Whether it’s an email or a card, these notes will not go unnoticed.
Preparation is Key
As long as you come to your campus visit prepared, you will do just fine. Be sure to take notes and snap photos as references along the way. You can also print out this Campus Visit Score Card to help you during your visit. It includes a visit checklist and college rating system. Good luck and enjoy your visits! P.S. CE Tours works with guidance counselors, educators, and program directors to arrange comprehensive multi-college tours for student groups. Talk to your guidance counselor about this exciting opportunity! Learn more about these college tours here.