One of the most pivotal moments before choosing the college you will attend involves visiting the campus. Campus visits allow students to get a better feel for the atmosphere and aesthetic of a prospective college, gain insight into academics and campus living, and more. This knowledge, in turn, can help high school applicants make informed decisions once the time comes to enroll.
Exploring a campus and learning its most valuable information can seem overwhelming, especially if you are the first member of your family to attend college. Here at Test Prep Score, we curated a guide with the most crucial information you should entertain when visiting a college campus.
An in-person visit to a prospective school beats any online tour or YouTube video. For most colleges, you can call or register online for a guided campus tour — led by students and staff — to experience the most major areas on the campus. Regardless of where the tour guide takes you, make sure to check out the dining hall, fitness center, library, career center, bookstore, and other campus facilities. Seeing these major facilities can help you ascertain an idea of what daily campus life might look like. If possible, explore the first-year dorms or try staying overnight with a current student to gauge the living situation.
Further, try walking around the city or community surrounding the campus. Remember to look at the amenities, local restaurants, job opportunities, and events near the campus.
When visiting a campus, you have the entire school at your fingertips. The tour is a wonderful time to interact with different campus resources to get a feel for the more technical aspects of application and enrollment. Search for group information sessions to attend with parents. Schedule an interview with an admissions officer. Go to the financial aid office and pick up forms to see what documents you need for your application. If possible, try sitting in on a large class to witness the pacing and structure you may see in college lectures.
You can even talk to professors and students in your intended major to learn what they like or dislike about a specific program. Remember to request contact information from anyone interesting that you meet, so you can send them follow-up questions after the campus tour.
Campus media (student-run newspapers, radio shows, television productions, bulletin boards, etc.) can deliver a deeper understanding of the culture and prominent issues occurring on campus. More specifically, these publications can help you learn more about what the college is not always willing to share publicly, such as problems within the administration, unfair treatment of students, future changes on campus, and more. So, grab the latest copy of the student newspaper or try to find other student publications, like department newsletters, alternative newspapers/magazines, and literary reviews.
Most colleges also have student-run radio stations that play music and discuss niche topics – listen in and see if anything interests you. Through college media, you can also discover on-campus, events, clubs, and extracurricular offerings.
You can also check out the school’s career center to explore on- and off-campus job opportunities, as well as other services. Thoroughly browse the school’s website and check out any student or organizational blogs.
One of the best ways to gain further insight into the overall environment of a college involves interviewing current students. Here are some sample questions you could ask:
Additionally, you could also listen in on students’ conversations to see what they are talking (or even complaining) about. Students are the lifeline and beating heart of a college, and their input is usually more truthful and accurate than marketing materials.
Even if you head into a campus visit with a plan, the thought of gathering information to decide on your home for the next four years is quite daunting. Luckily, Test Prep Score partners with resourceful counselors that can help you narrow down your college list and prepare stellar applications using the insight you have gained during your visit. College prep is challenging, but with the right support, you can make a confident and informed decision for your future.