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Educate. Empower. Achieve! Blog

Campus Visits Kick Off College Planning

by Jennifer Taylor on May 30, 2017 in College Visits


If you are a high school freshman or sophomore and just beginning to think about college, you’ll be relieved to know it’s as easy as starting from your own backyard.


We at Partners For Achievement believe families residing in the Chicago metropolitan area are at a distinct advantage with dozens of colleges ranging in size and selectivity at their fingertips.


There really is no better way to start college planning than by getting out there and seeing colleges for yourself.


College campus tours are offered year-round, but if students haven’t formed ideas about what they want to study or where they want to attend, it’s ideal to take a step back and begin with some basics.

College bound high school students and their parents take a campus tour at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.


To get started, we recommend local campus tours of small, medium and large colleges of different selectivity and in various settings. A small college typically enrolls 5,000 students or fewer, a medium-sized college enrolls from 5,000 to 15,000 students, and a large school enrolls 15,000 students or more. The size of the college can have a direct impact on how well of a “fit” the school is for a student.


Advantages of small colleges may seem obvious. They have small class sizes; the professors teach their curriculum; and students get to know their professors. However, large schools have their own benefits including a wide variety of majors and courses, well-funded big name sports programs, variety of housing, state-of-the-art research facilities, and distinguished or famous faculty. Does that make medium-sized schools “just right?” Perhaps. Medium-sized schools are likely to have more academic offerings than small colleges, a mixture of small and larger class sizes, bigger sports programs and access to more clubs and activities than a small college.


In the Chicago area, families have access to small, medium and large college campuses and an opportunity to see different size campuses in rural, suburban or urban settings—all within driving distance.


Below, are local college campus visit suggestions to get your high school student started thinking about college.


Seven Must-See Midwest College Visits

Here are seven great one and two-day visit options with most of the schools within a two-hour drive of each other.

 #1: Indiana

DePauw University (small, private, liberal arts, rural, selective)

Butler University (medium sized, private, urban, selective)

Indiana University (large, public research institution, large college town, selective)

 #2: Illinois and Iowa

Augustana College (small, private, Liberal arts, suburban setting, selective)

Drake University (medium sized, private school, urban, selective)

University of Iowa (large, public research institution, urban, selective)

 #3: Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Madison (large, public research institution, large college town, most selective)

Carthage College (small, private, liberal arts, suburban setting, less selective)

Marquette University (medium sized, private, Catholic, selective)

 #4: Illinois

Illinois Wesleyan University (small, private, liberal arts, large college town, selective)

Illinois State University (large, public, large college town, selective)

Bradley University (medium, private, suburban setting, selective)

 #5: Illinois-Chicago

University of Chicago (medium sized, private liberal arts, urban, most selective)

DePaul University (medium sized, private, Catholic, urban, selective)

 #6: Illinois-Chicago

Northwestern University (medium sized, private, suburban, most selective)

Loyola University (medium sized, private, Catholic, urban, selective)

 #7: Missouri

St. Louis University (medium sized, private, Catholic, urban, selective)

Washington University (medium sized, private, suburban, most selective)

University of Missouri (large, public research institution, suburban, selective)

Jennifer Taylor is the Essay and Editorial Director at Partners For Achievement. Read more about Taylor and the rest of the Partners For Achievement team.




  • kevinptaylor

    Nice list of college visits!

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