Five Must-Do College Visit Tips
For instance, I often hear, “I know I don’t want to go to a college that’s smaller than my high school.” In response to that, I say, “How do you know? The only way you can truly make that assessment is to be physically on a campus.”
There’s no substitute for a college visit, and here are some tips to help make yours as impactful as possible:
VISIT DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAMPUSES
This trumps everything else in importance. If you visit Indiana University, it will look a heck of a lot like the University of Illinois, which will look a heck of a lot like the University of Kansas, which will look a heck of a lot like the University of Michigan. They are all large public universities that have the same basic components. Make sure to visit a variety of campuses: small, medium, large, urban, and highly selective if you plan to pursue that avenue.
DO THE “OFFICIAL” ACTIVITIES
On your first visit as a freshman, sophomore or junior, it’s not enough to just walk around the campus on your own. To get a genuine feel for the environment, you need to attend the general admission session and go on a student-led campus tour. By senior year, once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll want to have an even more in-depth campus visit, one that involves sitting in on a class, meeting with a department head, or even spending the night in a dorm.
EVALUATE YOUR VISITS
If you visit, say, five colleges in five days, they’ll all become a blur—and that’s not beneficial. Partners For Achievement has a wonderful tool for assessing your visits that we call the PFA College Visit Checklist. This enables you to rate various facets of a school, such as the campus setting, food and housing. After you’ve completed the checklist, students can generate the equivalent of a grade for that particular college visit.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It might sound goofy, but you often can determine your true level of happiness on a campus by looking at a selfie you took while there.
PICK UP A SCHOOL NEWSPAPER
This is an ideal way to tap into the vibe of a university. It also provides a look at various activities from the perspective of students, which is invaluable.
Part of the PFA High School Program includes access to the PFA College Visit Checklist, a tool created to help guide students in choosing a college. For more information about PFA’s High School Program click here.
Kendall Hayes is a College Counselor at Partners For Achievement. Read more about Hayes and the rest of the Partners For Achievement team.