It’s that time of… life. It’s the time when you and your parents (or you and your student, parents…) hit the road and visit the schools you’re interested in. That may mean a trip across the country, or just up the street, but either way there are a few things you should be sure to fit into your trip so you get the best “view” of the school possible. Here are a handful of tips for planning your college visit to ensure you get the most of your visit:
Learn as much as you can before you go on your trip.
Perusing the school’s website and reading campus blogs will help you get a grasp on things that you really like about the school—and things you’re iffy about before stepping foot on campus. This will help you be prepared to ask any necessary questions, voice concerns and know what you’re heading into. Write down questions you have so you don’t forget to ask!
Take the trip while school is in session.
While summer trips are convenient, visiting the campus when it’s empty isn’t the best time to do it. Go during spring or fall when the campus is teeming with students and activity so you can get an accurate representation of campus life. Many high schools will even count missed school days for college visits as educational trips, rather than absences.
Make a schedule.
You probably have a few schools you’d like to see—so plan them accordingly. If your budget is limited, focus on your priority schools. If you’ve got a little more flexibility, start close to home, and expand out. Save the best for last—as you’ll learn how to best tour schools to get the most from your visit during your early trips!
Set interest meetings.
Seek out specific faculty members, staff, and/or students whose interests align with yours. For example, if you play the oboe and wish to play in the college orchestra, you should arrange a meeting with the orchestra director. Or if you have written for your high school newspaper and wish to work for the college newspaper, you should check out the newspaper office and meet with one of the editors. If you are interested in majoring in anthropology, you should meet with one of the anthro professors. It’s usually possible to arrange these meetings in advance, and often the admissions office will help you do so.
Take the campus tour… then explore.
The campus tour is a GREAT way to learn the highlights of the school. This is the school’s “best foot forward” moment, and you’ll likely learn a lot about the academic, athletic, and student activity “core” of the college. What you won’t learn, however, are the downfalls, dodgy areas (and every campus has them), student culture and intricacies of campus life. Once you’ve been on the campus tour, spend some time exploring and adventuring around campus to get a better feel for the geography and student culture.
Be a student for a day (and night, if you can!).
A lot of colleges and universities have programs where you can attend classes for a day, or even spend a night in a dorm with an existing student for a night or weekend. It’s a great way to REALLY understand how the school operates and feels.
And don’t forget—if you’re taking the SAT this March and missed getting in on our current classes, sign up for our Condensed SAT Test Prep Course now!
Featured photo from Flickr user NIExecutive, labeled for commercial reuse.