The Campus Visit
a guide for high school juniors
With the beginning of spring, a new group of students initiates the college search process. We have already seen the campus visitor volume increase as prospective high school juniors have joined current applicants in their search for the perfect college.
The campus visit is often a student's first introduction to a college or university. Too often, however, students arrive on campus without a plan. More significantly, they arrive without questions! We hope that the following tips will give you some food for thought before you invest your valuable time and energy visiting a multitude of campuses across the country.
Don't leave after the tour.
Most often, students and parents visiting a college campus for the first time will go on a walking tour of the university. Many will also choose to listen to an informational session moderated by a member of the admission staff. Their biggest mistake, however, is that the student and parents then leave. While the admission office's campus programming may be finished for the day, there is still much more to be seen!
Remember that this might be a place where you will be living for the next four years of your life. Go to the dining halls and sample the cuisine. Walk through the library to get a sense of the study environment. Visit the office or a club or organization that you hope to join. Walk through the athletic facilities to get a sense of where you may exercise. In essence, become a student for the day. Looking at each campus through the eyes of a current student will oftentimes be far more enlightening.
Become a participant, not a spectator.
It would be very easy for you to simply come to campus and listen to what colleges have to say. You may listen to an informational session and learn all about the university's various departments, programs, and opportunities. But remember that information sessions and tours provide general information in order to answer the most basic frequently asked questions. These typically include topics such as residential life, class size, financial aid, social life, meal plans, admission standards, and other generic information. They cannot possibly answer all of the personal questions that you may have.
Ask those personal questions. If you love the theater, have you asked which productions the Theater Department is currently preparing? If you want an international experience, have you asked about the countries in which study-abroad opportunities are available? If you are interested in student/faculty relationships (which we hope you are), have you asked students about their favorite faculty members? Asking these questions and more will allow your visit to be more personal, not to mention memorable.
Don't visit more than two schools in a day.
We know, you're only in Boston for three days and there are 25 schools you want to visit. Resist the temptation. If you try to visit three or four schools in a day, you will not be able to fully understand what each university has to offer (see numbers 1 and 2). Furthermore, the search process can be exhausting, and you don't want to cross the third school of the day off your list simply because your fatigue gave you a negative impression!
We recommend that you do some investigating before you leave for your trip. Look through the various college catalogues in your high school guidance office. Visit the web sites for each college on your list. Talk to your guidance counselor about which schools may be the right fit for you. Taking advantage of these resources prior to your trip will help you to determine which campuses you may want to spend your time at during your college tour.
We hope this advice will help you to have the most productive college trip possible. It's hard to believe that another class is already beginning the search process, and we can't wait to see you on campus in the coming months. Just remember to bring your questions!