Visiting College Campuses
Whether a student plans to attend a four-year university, community college or trade school, part of figuring out if a school is a good fit for the student is to visit the campus.
Many colleges have special days for prospective students and plan special activities to introduce students to campus life. If those dates don’t work into your schedule, most schools offer regularly scheduled tours of the campus and will do a general tour to give students a feel for the campus. They may also give tours based on majors that allow you to tour some of the facilities and gather specific information about the program the student is interested in. Please check the individual college websites for more information about these programs.
While you are there, make sure you talk to students and faculty if possible, have a meal on campus and/or visit the student union, read the student newspaper, and most of all, ask questions! This is your opportunity to gain an understanding of the culture and community of the school and to find out what the current issues are on the campus when you are there.
Both CollegeBoard and ACT have resources available to help with the college search process including information on When to Visit college campuses, important factors in Choosing a College, and a College Visit Planning Checklist.
If you schedule an interview while you are on campus, be on time and be prepared. Do a little research before you go and come up with a list of questions to ask that can’t necessarily be answered by looking at the school’s website. Some examples of good questions are:
- What is the retention rate for freshmen?
- (How many of them return next year?)
- Why do you think a specific major is a good one? What makes it unique?
- What opportunities are there for internships in different majors?
- How involved are students in campus activities? Do students stay on campus during the weekends?
It is also important that you are prepared to answer questions from the interviewer. Think about what your goals are, why you want to go to college, why you are interested in this particular college and how it fits with your goals, and what your interests are in life. Most of all, be yourself and be honest in your answers; it's okay to admit that you don’t know something. The interview is meant to be an opportunity for both parties to gain information. Don't forget the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression and dress appropriately!
Virtual Campus Tours
If visiting a college is not possible, or you would like to see what the campus looks like before planning a visit, virtual tours can be a good way of exploring the campus. A helpful site for this is CampusTours.com. Many schools have their own virtual tours as well so check their websites too.
Live Chat Opportunities
Many colleges offer opportunities for live chat sessions with representatives. These are a great way to get your questions answered and find out more directly from the source! Check out Collegeweeklive for more information on when these are scheduled.