Post By: COYD Staff
So what should students be doing while they are visiting colleges this summer? Here’s 12 to-dos for any college visit:
1.Try to visit colleges when school is still in session.
Obviously this is not possible for every student. Some high school spring and summer breaks coincide exactly with the college breaks. However, if you do have a choice, try to visit the college when school is in session. A barren campus does not give a prospective student the full experience of the college they are visiting.
2. Prepare and plan for the visit.
Having questions prepared beforehand can help you gather comprehensive information about the college you are visiting. Do your research prior to the visit and make sure to ask the questions that you can’t find online or in a book. Also, make sure to call ahead to schedule a guided tour and to find out where the tour meets.
3. Interact with the tour guide.
Most of the time the tour guides are students who are currently attending that college. Ask him/her about class size, if it’s easy to develop a relationship with professors, ask about the dorms, the dining hall, the meal plans, the greek life…etc.
4. Pick up the college newspaper.
The newspaper will give you an idea of the political and social perspective of the college. In addition, it will probably include campus events which you can attend while you are there.
5. Visit the department for the areas you are interested in majoring in.
Be sure to contact the department beforehand to make arrangements. The contact information is usually on the department website and try to meet the person in charge of the undergraduate program.
6. Take a class.
Attend a class. However, do not judge the whole college by this one class and professor.
7. Try to stay overnight in the dorms.
To really know what college life is like you need to spend a full day and night with a student. Ask your guidance counselor if there are any alumni from your high school that are attending the school you are visiting. This is probably the best way you can get a real insider’s look into that college.
8. Take pictures and notes.
If you are visiting several colleges on your trip, don’t rely on your memory to remember the college. Take a lot of pictures and bring a notebook to write notes, thoughts, questions you have while you are exploring the university.
9. Eat in the dining hall with other students.
This is partly to taste the food in the dining hall. But more importantly, it is a time where you can sit down with other students and ask them questions about the university.
10. Check out the surrounding neighborhood.
Many students only stay within the campus when visiting a college. It is important to venture out and explore the surrounding neighborhood. Many college campuses are actually in the middle of a city or town. The surrounding neighborhood plays a huge part in college life. Some students need an outlet, an escape when they are in college. Others do not want the hustle and bustle of city life to distract them from their college studies. Whatever your preferences might be, check out the neighborhood and see if it is somewhere you can spend 4 years of your life.
11. Ask about academic tutoring, office hours, TA help.
More often than not, freshmen will need help from a TA, a tutor, or the professor. Ask other students how accessible is academic help. The jump from high school and college academic life is sometimes a big leap for some students. If that’s the case for you, it is very important to find out what kind of academic help is provided for freshmen. Remember, there are plenty of schools out there where it might be easy to get in, but hard to stay in.
12. Try visiting colleges of different sizes.
You won’t know what your college size type is until you visit a variety of different colleges. The benefits of a big school are 1) wide range of academic and social opportunities 2) state of the art facilities 3) wide variety of courses and majors 4) well-funded sport programs. However, there are also other characteristics like 1) large class sizes 2) TA’s teaching the course 3) Getting lost in the crowd. Small schools don’t have those downsides but they have downsides as well which are 1) fewer physical resources 2) fewer majors 3) fewer social oppportunities. Visit both kinds of schools and see which ones fits you.