Visiting College Campuses
As the new school year begins, students and their parents will check their calendars and plan college campus tours.
How Important is it to Tour a Campus?
Touring a college campus is very important. Many colleges are keeping track of “demonstrated interest” and touring their campus is certainly a good way for students to indicate they are serious about attending that college. But more importantly, it is good for students to see the campus, preferably while the college is in session, and get a feel for the college and its students. Some students want a large university and when they tour one, they are thrilled to be a part of the bustle and excitement. Others may feel overwhelmed. Touring the campus can help the student try the campus on for size.
What Should Students do on a Campus Visit?
- If you have a particular interest such as music or athletics, try and schedule a meeting with a professor or coach.
- If you are interested, ask about sitting in on a class, keeping in mind that not all colleges are able to accommodate this. Call ahead to schedule.
- If you have a learning or attentional difference, it is very helpful to speak to a representative of the Office of Disability Services. You will want to get a sense of how their office works with students and how “user friendly” it feels. Call ahead to schedule an appointment—they may not have much time to speak with you if you just pop in.
- Visit the student center and look at the notices on the bulletin board or kiosks. By seeing the types of clubs, activities and meetings advertised, you will get an idea of what the students at this school are interested in and passionate about.
- Pick up a copy of the student newspaper and see what topics are being discussed.
- If you get a chance, eat a meal in the cafeteria.
- Don’t be shy about asking questions of students you see on campus. It has been my experience that most students are happy to answer questions about their school. You can ask about how safe the student feels on campus, about the food, the dorms, how accessible the professors are, or what students do on the weekends.
- Take notes! If you see more than one school a day or several during a trip, it is easy to get mixed up about details.
What if I Don’t Love it?
We all hear stories of students who step on a college campus and just know this is the college they want to attend. But not everyone has an epiphany on a campus so don’t worry if you don’t. There are many colleges that will be a “good fit” so you don’t have to feel that you must find “the only one that is right for me”.
And, finally, enjoy yourself! This is the beginning of a very exciting time.
Janet Rosier, Certified Educational Planner, has been an Independent Admissions Consultant since 2003. She is a Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). She also writes a blog, “Next Stop: College” for the Hearst Newspapers in CT. Follow Janet on her website, twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.