Seven Tips to Navigate a College Visit

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Feature Story

by Jenny Faubert

Student with Backpack

Warm temperature, urban city environment, or perhaps wide open spaces with lots of trees ... No, I'm not looking for a new home, but these are a few things that could influence my decision of what college to attend. Picking a college is just as important as moving to a new city. The college you choose just might be your next home ... until you retire to Florida.

You've done your research, you know the type of degrees and programs offered, tuition and cost of living, etc. You're ready to go to college, right? Not just yet. You need to do one more thing before making that final decision. What's that? A college visit.

Before choosing a college, you should schedule campus visits with the admissions offices of your top choices as soon as possible. To get the full experience, you should always schedule this visit while classes are in session. By talking to other students one-on-one, you can get a great feel for the atmosphere of the school. If the professors are strict, reserved or balanced, these students will open up and spill their guts. Be prepared to ask lots of questions; other students may be some of your best resources for making that tough decision.

Sitting in on a class is more telling than any brochure. Learning the ins and outs of the classroom could help make up your mind. Pay attention to class size. Interaction between 20 students in a classroom compared to 100 can make a huge difference, or how a faculty member teaches – is it all lecture, visual or hands-on?

Additionally, meet with a professor in the field you will be studying. They can answer questions about job outlook for the future, what other graduates in the program have gone on to do, or any other questions you may have.

Small school or large school ... Don't know which would suit you? Visit schools of various sizes. If you feel like you'll get lost in the crowd at a large campus and would like to stand out more, a small school might be better for you. But you won't know until you go!

Dining options, coffee shops, concert venues, outdoor activities ... not only should you visit the school, but also the surrounding areas. Do you spend most of your free time outdoors? Then an urban setting might not be the best choice. On the other hand, if coffee shops, art galleries and plays are more of your thing, an urban setting could be perfect. When you're talking to the students, find out what they do with their free time between or after classes. See if they know of some hot spots nearby.

Another factor to consider if you'll be living off-campus is the distance from where you live to the school. When going on your visit, calculate the time it takes you to reach the school. Living farther away from a school may discourage you from attending classes regularly.

Student Studying

Let's recap. Here are the seven tips to navigate a college visit:

  1. Schedule your visit when classes are in session.
  2. Talk to other students currently attending the school.
  3. Get permission to sit in on a class.
  4. Meet with a faculty member.
  5. Determine what size school is right for you.
  6. Venture out into the surrounding areas.
  7. Calculate traveling time from off-campus housing.

Using these seven tips as your basis, make a checklist with any additional criteria you're looking for in a school. After your campus visits, compare the pros and cons of each school. You should now have a better idea of which school is right for you.

Avoid the mistake of choosing the wrong school; it could cost you extra time and money, and cause a lot of stress. Schedule your campus visits today!

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