The Four Things Your Students Should do when Visiting a College Campus

Elizabeth LaScala writes a blog called “Doing College”. She recently published 4 tips students must do when visiting a College Campus. Here are the tips:

1. Work closely with the admissions office.

Your students should register for their visits using their dedicated college email account (one used only for college admission purposes so nothing gets lost or missed). Registering allows the admissions office to record interest in their school and to properly schedule the visit. If there are questions in advance, your students should contact the admissions officer assigned to work with students who live in your home county or state. Send questions in advance. Ask if they can make arrangements, for example, to meet with students who share their interests, speak with faculty in their intended major(s) or, to meet with a counselor in the career development center. Most admissions officers will take the time to answer all of their questions and help to make these appointments. They also keep detailed records of each visiting student’s interests. These records might make a difference in an admissions decision or result in an invitation to become part of a unique living and/or learning opportunity, such as an honors program or scholarship.

2. Take the campus tour, then tour some more.

When your students takes a campus tour, they are most likely to see a dorm room, the library, athletic facilities, the recreation center, the dining hall, the student union/center, classrooms, labs, and performing arts facilities. They might also receive invitations to attend events on campus or a discount to shop at the campus store. But there’s a lot more to a college campus than they will see on the formal tour. It pays dividends to walk around, and find out where students go to socialize, take breaks from classes, and eat meals off campus. They will want to try a meal in the dining hall, and if there are any special dietary needs, find out if the school can meet them. They should also find out where students go to receive medical care. At some colleges the answer is easy; the school has a health center, maybe even a hospital on campus. At other schools, you might need to go off campus for medical care. Also, notice how students get around campus. It’s easy to walk around a school that occupies only a few city blocks. But they will need to take shuttles to get around campuses at many larger, more spread-out universities.

3. Get the scoop from the college’s students.

They will get first impressions on the campus tour. But they get only a small number, at best, of student impressions and then only from students who are among the happiest on campus. If the tour guide offers them a business card, they should take it. That person could be very helpful as they make their short list of schools as well as their final decision. But as they venture on your own, they should stop and talk to students. Ask them if they like the school. Was it easy/hard for them to get into the major that they wanted? To transfer to a different major? To see a professor for help on a paper or exam? What is the social center of the campus? Where do students live after the first year? They should take and read a copy of the campus newspaper, so they get a sense of hot topics on the campus, cultural events, athletic spirit and guest speakers–and add it to the other information they gather.

4. Check out the community off campus.

The campus is not the complete picture of a college community. There are many differences between a school that’s in a large city versus one in a smaller “college town.” The college town is more likely to look to the college to be the cultural center of the community; a large city will have a cultural life that is not over-dependent on the college for support. It is more likely to find more “school spirit” in the college town. But it is also likely that there are more cultural and entertainment options in the larger city. In either case, be sure that your students see how easy or hard it is to get into the community surrounding campus. Can they walk right into town? Or do they need to rely on public transportation or a car to get around?

College admissions offices try to make the campus visit experience as pleasant as possible. But it’s up to each student to make it a truly informative experience –one when they gather all of the information that they need to understand if the school should have a place on your students final college application list. The time to visit is well worth the investment, given the investment that they will make after choosing a college.

Here is a link to her blog: The Four Must Dos on a College Visit