How to Make the Most Out of Campus Visits

This blog post is provided by the Unigo Expert Network, a group of top education experts from across the U.S. answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school. To have your questions answered visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

“With several campus visits scheduled, I want to make the most of them – what are some uncommon but important things to do, look for, and ask while I’m there?”
– Jason C., Boulder, CO

BLINK! Your First impression of a College Campus Is Probably Correct Marjorie Shaevitz , Author & Founder, adMISSION POSSIBLE

Personal visits are the best way of getting to know colleges. What to do? Stop by the admissions office, sign in and meet the rep assigned to your high school. Then take an organized campus tour or go on your own. Ask yourself these questions: Am I turned on or off by what I see? What’s available in my activity/athletic/other interest areas? Do the students seem to be the kind of people I want to spend time with? Ask a few what they like/dislike about the campus. Can I see myself happily spending four years here? Have fun!

Ask LOTS and LOTS of Questions Francine Block, President, American College Admissions Consultants

Always visit on a school day unless the school schedules a special weekend program for accepted students. Take a campus tour, even if you took one earlier. Read the posters, what are the activities/programs/speakers/concerts available for students? Read a school paper. Attend an intro lecture class: What is the interaction? Who is teaching? How engaged are the students? Visit the Career Center -- do they have active career alumni networks helping students get jobs? Does the school help you get an internship? Ask lots of questions: academic requirements, core curriculum, retention numbers, social life -- what would students you talk to change about the school?

Grab a Book and Pull Up a Chair... Lisa Bain-Carlton, Educational Consultant, CollegeMatchPoint.com

Most college tours will take you on a quick run through the library. However, I'd recommend you stop by the library for a longer visit. Bring a book or take one from the shelves and then observe the action around you. Are students working in groups? Do people stop by and chat with one another? Is the physical space comfortable? If you see students studying a subject you are interested in, you might consider asking them about the course. You are going to be spending a great deal of time in the library -- therefore, taking a break among the books can be a good way to determine if the environment feels like a match for you.

College Tours Should Include Information About Academic Advising Programs Joanne Levy-Prewitt, Creator & Founder, CollegeMapp

When visiting campuses, students should inquire about the specifics of academic advising. Advisors help students choose courses and majors and can ensure that students make informed decisions about their education. Ask the tour guide, or the admissions staff, how you will be assigned an academic advisor. Who are the advisors? Are they professors? Graduate students? Peers? Will you receive an advisor as a freshman or after you declare a major? If there is an inadequate system of advising, how will you choose your classes or your major? This is especially important at a large public university where students will need to reach out and ask for help.

Observe, Question, Go Off the Beaten Path, Do What Interests You Patti Demoff, Cofounder, College Circuit

Use the visit for information, but also for observation. Observe students, where they congregate, and their interactions. Do you feel like you will fit in? Go off the beaten path. Walk or drive around the surrounding neighborhood. Are there appealing places to eat, shop and hang out? Ask questions of various people, or if that’s too intimidating, let your parents do it. Arrange in advance to visit areas of importance to you: disability services, arts facilities, sports facilities and coaches, science labs, faculty or program heads, classes. Finally, do what interests you. For example, one passionate, prospective student visited art museums on every campus.

Get the full story from 35 more experts -- including the VP of the College Board, Dean of Admissions from University of Illinois and more -- at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork. To send your question to our experts, visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions.

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