Tuesday, May 13, 2014


why to visit a college campus before applying for admission

For the sixth time in eleven years, I will be visiting potential colleges with my student. This should be old hat for me, and some of it is.

But, I realized last week while visiting a college campus with my son and daughter that not all campus visits are the same. Even a visit to a campus you have visited previously with another student can be different than before.

This post is the beginning of a series about visiting colleges with your student. I plan to have information for students and parents; newbies and seasoned. I will be adding these posts to the 'High School' section to make the information easy to find. Sign up to receive my blog via email so you don't miss a post.

Why should you visit a campus?

1. To See What the Campus is REALLY like
You can glean a wealth of information from college websites, slick brochures, and virtual tours, but you cannot really get an idea of what the campus, students, and faculty are like unless you visit.

2.  To Walk Around the Campus

At a recent visit to a smaller school in Dallas, I overheard a potential student compare walking around  that campus to walking around a much larger school that sprawls across miles. You have to visit a campus to judge how large the campus actually is and how far away your classes might be from each other and/or your dorm.  

3.  To Meet Professors  

It is to your benefit to talk to professors, admissions officers, department heads, etc. You will get a feel for what class might be like and they might be able to connect your face with your name if you apply to that school.

4.  To Sit in On a Class 

If you arrange in advance, some colleges will allow you to sit in on a class. Can you see yourself in that class? Or does it not feel right? You can't decide that just by looking at pictures.

5.  To Attend Prospective Student Events   

Many colleges have beneficial information for students applying to any college. This includes advice on applying to college, applying for scholarships, and applying for financial aid. Of course, they want you to come to their school, but they know you might just be collecting information.

Even if your student has no idea where they might want to go or what they might want to do, they should start visiting colleges as a junior or senior so they can start comparing schools. Visiting the different departments will give your student some idea of what majors might interest them.

What if a school your student likes is not close to home? 

Travel can be expensive, but choosing a school that you hate is more expensive. 

If you cannot afford to visit a school, you need to consider if you can afford the travel that would be involved to attend the school and come home during breaks.

Assignments for your college-minded student:

  1. make a list of all colleges that  interest him/her
  2. visit the college websites to find out about visits for prospective students
  3. plan a visit  
  4. go visit

My next post will include a spreadsheet to help you keep track of information you glean at each school for comparison purposes as well as meeting deadlines.

How many schools do you and your student plan to visit? Leave a comment below.

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