As admission season and the recruiting process comes to a close and acceptances roll in and decisions are happening, many students find themselves invited to campus visits for admitted students. I attended one of these visits as a parent and quickly realized it was different and more in-depth than any prospective student tour I’d been on.
To go or not to go?
If you were accepted to multiple schools, chances are you’ll have just two or three weeks to attend several conflicting campus visits and overnight stays. Choosing which ones to visit, or if you should even go at all, can be complicated.
First, consider if you’re actually ready to commit before attending admitted students events. While you’ll learn some valuable information about the school and get a chance to make some friends, the purpose of the event is to convince you to commit—so if you’ve already made up your mind, skip the expense and time commitment of a visit. For those on the fence, arrange your tours, prioritizing favorites when event dates conflict between one or more schools.
It’s definitely an interesting experience to be recruited, and the attention you get while touring proves helpful in ultimately picking a college. My son was already pretty convinced he wanted to attend the college based on its programs and reputation, but given the 2,000 miles between home, we felt we needed to experience the campus to be sure it was the right fit. Meeting students and faculty really solidified his decision and he realized he felt at home on the campus.
Benefits of each type of visit
While he chose an overnight visit, there are also day visits for admitted students as well as off-campus meetups offered. An overnight visit is exactly what it sounds like: you get to stay on campus with a student host and are offered lots of information about the student experience. Not all schools offer this, but if you have the opportunity, I would recommend this option. My son stayed in a dorm room with two freshmen, met many current students, and had an in-depth campus tour. Spending time with his host gave him an opportunity to really learn about the college experience.
If an overnight visit isn’t offered or doesn’t fit your schedule, a day-long visit also works well. Though you won’t get the same type of face time with students and faculty, you’ll still get a great feel for the campus and all the critical information about the academic and social opportunities the school offers if you choose to enroll.
Make the most of your visit
Take every tour you can to get the feel of the campus. Believe me, you’ll learn things that aren’t on the website! If you have dietary restrictions, make sure to tour the dining hall, as they may have staff members present you can talk to. Even if you don’t have dietary restrictions, it’s a good idea to try the food!
If you can, find the opportunity to sit in on a class. In following up with those students who did attend classes, the consensus was that it was interesting, valuable, and refreshing to find students and professors eager to answer any questions they had.
Talk to current students
Take advantage of the students around you and ask any questions you have. Introduce yourself as an admitted student to random people and ask if they like the food or where their favorite place is on campus. The more information you get, the better.
Not so long ago they too were in your place, trying to decide where to commit, and something made them choose their school. Learning about why they chose to enroll can help you make your decision. During my dining hall tour, a current student noticed my name tag that identified me as an admitted student and asked if I had any questions. We talked for almost an hour, and I got to learn so much about what freshman year is like and his experience on the Debate Team, which I am interested in joining.
Get to know the area
It's always quite an adventure exploring a new city. Even if you’re only going to be visiting for a short time, try to get to know the area around your school, because it could become your home for the next four years or more. Research beforehand and make a plan for your visit.
Reflect after your visit
Immediately after your visit, write down your thoughts about the school. How did you like the campus? How did you feel talking to current students? Could you picture yourself being happy there? Was there anything you didn’t like about the school? Think deeply about your experiences individually and as a whole, and use the reflection to help you make a decision.
Some students will have a strong feeling that they’ve found the right place just by visiting campus (for the first or second time), but others will have to look to the little things to make a final decision. Whatever happens, make sure to congratulate yourself for all your hard work, and rest assured that whatever decision you make will be a good one.
Looking for more advice on how to have the best college visits? Contact us and Click here to check out our next trip - the Oregon Experience coming in December!