Juniors! By now you have begun to research colleges and develop a preliminary list of schools to which you may soon be applying. It’s now time to plan some college visits!
Here are some suggested steps to help you get started:
- Look up the Academic Calendar of each college to find out when the college is in session. It is far more preferable to visit colleges when students are on campus so that you can observe students in action! You can ask yourself: Would I relate well to the students on campus? Do I find myself reflected in these students, in terms of how they behave and talk with each other, how well they mix together, how diverse they are – even how they dress?
- Check the schedule for tours and information sessions. This information is available on the admissions home page. Typically, tours are led by students, and information sessions are led by admissions officers. Find out if you need to register online in advance.
- Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest. Go to the home pages of departments you are interested in and look through the list of faculty members to find one or two who teach or conduct research in areas that interest you. Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you. You can find out useful information about academic programs and about the college environment from informal discussions with faculty members.
Once you are on campus, and have attended the tour, info session, and meetings with professors, here are additional ways you can learn about the college:
- Speak with students about their experiences at the college and ask them questions related to your interests.
- Eat in the dining hall. This not only gives you a chance to see what the food is like, but also provides an opportunity to observe students. Would you enjoy hanging out with these students?
- Stay overnight with a student or in the surrounding town, if you have the time to do so. Try to get a feel for the environment. Is the local town or city appealing to you.
- Take notes throughout your visit. Keep track of the features of the college that are a good match for you, as well as features that you do not feel would suit you.
- Take pictures. As you continue to visit colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each college. Taking pictures is an excellent way to help you remember what features differentiate each college. Capture the architecture, as well as buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, gym, stadium or other places that interest you in particular.
Visiting colleges is a learning experience. Try to visit a variety of colleges – large and small, located both in cities and in more remote areas, small liberal arts schools as well as larger research universities – so that you can decide what features are best for you.