How to Do a College Visit

Juniors and seniors considering attending college should consider visiting their prospective schools, and they should consider ahead of time what to look at.

By Grace VanDeSteeg

With the end of senior year in the horizon, students are trying to make a decision on where they should spend the next four years of their lives. Many aspects go into this decision including applying, tuition, and the campus itself. A student looks at the campus a very different way than a parent. Each having very different interests. The importance of a campus visit is often overlooked.

Each campus is very different from one another. The size, the diversity, the community, the tuition, etc. All of these vary from college to college. The only indefinite way of ensuring you know all of the facts is to be at the campus. “You have to see if it will be a good fit,” said counselor and mother Laura Lloyd-Smith. “All of the other pieces are important but, it you don’t fit at that campus, you can’t complete your puzzle.” These pieces all come together to create your future.

Many students wait to take campus tours until late into their senior year. “I strongly recommend touring the summer before your senior year,” said Smith, pointing out a student can look at campuses and knock colleges off the list that they don’t see fitting. “You should only want 2 or 3 colleges on your list during the first semester of your senior year,” she said. Scholarships, housing, and many other deadlines come up as early as February 1st, so the smaller the list of colleges, the better, and the less stressed a student can be.

“You don’t want to have to transfer,” said Lloyd-Smith.

Visiting a college, for parents, is looking at a place that could be the new home of their child. Parents will always want the best for their child and a campus is no exception. During a campus visit, “parents should ensure the college has the area of study for their student,” said Lloyd-Smith. “You don’t want to have to transfer.” Scholarships for transfer students are a lot scarcer than for the incoming freshman. Many colleges also offer research opportunities for undergraduate students. “Parents, and students, should see if the opportunities for research are available for underclassmen, not just seniors and juniors,” said Lloyd-Smith. Other opportunities that should be looked into are study abroad programs. Will they affect your graduation timeline? Are your class requirements available abroad? Parents and students should look into the different opportunities also available on campus. Along with the opportunities, parents should ensure that the academic counseling staff would be able to aid their students in their academic endeavors. “The staff assigned to your student could be the difference if your child succeeds or not,” said Lloyd-Smith.

Students, on the other hand, have very different interests. Dining, activities, residence halls, location: all of these are very important to a student who is planning to spend the next four years of their life at this campus. Students should look for things that they are interested in. The dining halls will all have varying food types. The campus banking system can affect absolutely everything on the campus from your books to your meal plan. “Remember that you also aren’t just a student, so be sure to look at what there is to do in the surrounding area of the prospective campus,” said Kaleb Wilkening, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As a student, be sure to check all of the boxes when looking at your prospective home.

Overall, college visits are a vital role in the decision process. A visit can ensure that that college fits all of your expectation. Just remember, the goal of the college decisions is to find your new home for the next four years. Parents and students have much to consider during this pressing time.

Photo: Holyoke Campus by Massachusetts Office of Travel on Flickr