One of the most critical aspects of building a college list is what you thought when visiting them. Although COVID-19 has halted all travel plans, there are still a ton of virtual options for you to get a feel of the university. Here are some tips to make the most out of your in-person or virtual college visit.
Although you go to visit a university with the hopes of learning more about the school, it’s good to know some basic facts beforehand. Before you visit the university, think about things such as location, class size, and whether or not they have your prospective major. You don’t want to spend time visiting a college you wouldn’t even consider applying to in the first place.
Taking pictures is a good way to remember the environment of the school. I often tend to forget a lot about the campus as time goes on, so having something to look back on keeps the image of the school fresh in your mind.
Going over the summer or a school break is still a great time to visit, but you don’t get an accurate image of what campus life is like. Being able to see students go about their daily life helps you get a feel of what it would be like if you were a student and how your routine would be.
Having a tour guide is an excellent opportunity to talk to a college student, so you want to make the most out of it. Some people don’t ask questions because they’re afraid they’ll annoy other people in the group. But if you have a question that needs to be answered, just speak up. Tour guides are there to give you a sense of what the school is like and that means answering questions about the college.
People often find tour guides fake/rehearsed, so hearing opinions from a random person attending can help you understand the school. You can do this virtually too! Many college students are happy to answer any questions you may have from DMS, emails, etc. Virtual student panels are also great ways to hear about student life from actual students.
Go to the dining halls and see what kind of food they offer. Go in academic buildings and peek inside some classrooms. If you have the opportunity to sit in on a class, take it! You need to be able to fully see yourself as a student, not just a tourist walking through the parts of campus the guide wants you to see.
If you can get into any academic buildings, look for flyers for your prospective major. You can learn more about events they offer on campus and what the dorms are like there. Overall, brochures and magazines contain a lot of information that you wouldn’t know beforehand!
There are advertisements for tons of programs and clubs. Find some that catch your eye, and mention then in your “why us” essay for that college. It’s really important to know what colleges can offer before you apply to them.
You’d be surprised at the number of students who don’t apply to a specific college because ‘it was raining when I was there.’ Weather is a temporary condition. It can change over time, so don’t let one or two rainy days discourage you from applying to a specific college.
Taking notes is similar to the pictures and videos, but take bullet points throughout the information session, tour, and visit. It’s impossible to remember all the information they throw at you, and it’s nice to look back at later.
When colleges are open for visitors is still very much up in the air, but there are still tons of resources to get a good feel of the campus. Good luck on your adventure!
Read the next article in our college application guide: 4 Alternatives You Can Do if College Isn't For You