Going off to college can be an exciting time. You’re about to move out, start a new chapter, and have a lot to look forward to. However, making the decision for which college to go to can determine what kind of experience you’ll have.
Every college is different. What they stand for, what programs they offer, how big they are, and so on makes each university unique. Visiting college campuses can be the perfect way to discover what that school is really like beyond the pictures.
You won’t truly know what your future at a college will be like just by stepping foot on campus. However, you can take campus tours and try to learn as much information as possible. That way, you’ll have a good idea of what your college life will be like there.
Other than taking a tour, you might not know what to do when visiting a college campus. Here are some tips to get all you can out of your campus visits.
- Make a Checklist
Creating a college tour checklist will help organize your thoughts. As you think of something you want to see or ask about on your tour, add it to the list. That way, you won’t forget when the time comes. It’s better to get as many questions answered as possible while you’re there.
And don’t worry, it’s not dorky to make a list. There are so many important factors you should know and ask about a college. You’ll be extra prepared when you show up, and it can help narrow down your decision for a school. Once you have all your questions answered, you’ll have a pretty good picture of what it would be like to attend that college.
Not sure exactly what to put on your list? Ask friends, parents, or others you know who are currently attending college. There are also lists and guides online to help give you ideas about what to ask.
- See as Much as You Can
Depending on where you’re looking, it might be a significant trip to campus. To limit how many times you visit before you attend, go ahead and as much of the college that you can. You’ll have a better idea of where things are, what everything looks like, and what life is like there.
Head for the dorms, the academic buildings, the dining hall, everything. Student recreation buildings or student unions are good stops too. Those locations are popular venues for events, so you’ll probably need to be familiar with them. Check out any restaurants on campus. What kind of food do they have? Knowing in advance is better than finding out later.
You’ll be more prepared if you visit everything while visiting campus. If you’re still trying to decide where to go, this helps. There will be practically no surprises if you attend, and you’ll know where everything is. While looking around, try to get a feel for the place. Would you like living there? Do the students and staff seem friendly? These are important questions to ask yourself.
- Speak to as Many People as Possible
Another way to get the most out of your college visit is to talk to people. Staff, faculty, and most importantly, advisors. Financial aid and academic advisors will have the most valuable information for you. They’re also more readily available to speak with than others who work around campus.
If you take a tour on your visit, you can ask your guide questions. They’re not only there to show you around, but they also give you information about the place. Ask them any questions that come up while on tour, but also applicable questions from your list. For example, they’d probably be able to answer a lot of questions about housing and dining.
In terms of academics, speaking to an advisor is your best bet. You can put questions for advisors on your checklist. They can give you a realistic view of what your academic life will be like at a university. How many classes to take, where to find resources for studying and research, and the like are valuable pieces of advice. Especially for freshmen, who haven’t yet experienced college life and how to balance it, an advisor can really help.
- Go Off-Campus
You know what’s also an important part of visiting a college campus? Visiting the town it’s located in. You might not plan to go off campus very often, but knowing what the layout of the city is like can help in the long run.
Does the town feel safe? Are the roads confusing? What kind of stores and restaurants do they have? The environment around a school can also provide resources for you. You might need to do some shopping for food or school supplies, and knowing where to get them is important.
Sometimes you just need to get away, but might not have much free time. An escapade around the town is a great way to do this. Try to imagine whether you could get around the town or not. Also, if there are certain activities you enjoy — bowling, golfing, attending movies — make sure there’s somewhere you can go nearby.
Don’t Stress It
You might feel overwhelmed scoping out all the colleges you’re interested in. There’s a lot to look at, especially if you haven’t decided where to go yet. However, you don’t need to let college visits stress you out.
By preparing yourself in advance, you’ll have easy visits that go smoothly. Remember to research and write down questions beforehand. Bring your checklist with you, so you don’t forget anything. See everything you want to see while there. You’ve got this!