Campus Visits: Look for the Vibe and Find Your Tribe
The college admission process has always been a multi-dimensional and time-consuming affair. You’re required to build a college list, prepare for tests, write applications, and appear for interviews. But all that’s just one side of the story; there are some fun activities involved too; college visits, for instance.
When it comes to getting a feel of the facilities and environment, there’s nothing better than a campus visit. If you can afford to do so, it should be on the top of your to-do list. You wouldn’t want to rely only on college websites and newsletters for information as they might contain unrealistic pictures. A campus visit will not only help you with a better perspective, but it will also help you picture your future there.
On a campus visit, you can do much more than just walk through the campus or take a classroom tour. You can have a chat with the current students and learn about their experiences being in the college. Interaction with professors can also be an excellent opportunity for you to see how you would fit in as a student.
A Visit Demonstrates Your Interest
Most college committees are more than willing to accept applicants who are genuinely interested and have done their research. They want to see the excitement in you to attend that specific college. Visiting campuses shows how interested you are to get in. Some colleges even keep track records of your visit and register you for official tours and information sessions.
Key Things You Should Consider
Visiting a college campus may sound exciting, but you shouldn’t underestimate the planning required for it in the thrill of the moment. To ensure you gain as much as possible from each visit, you should ideally create a list of points of interest and things you’d like to know about the college. Also, mentally create a map of exactly what you’d be doing once you’re at the campus.
Need a little help there? Here are a few pointers:
- Make sure that you’ve signed in at the college admission office in time.
- Check-in for the info seions. Most colleges host such sessions, and you can take an appointment in advance. Just head to their official website and check for the schedule.
- Don’t forget to take a bench test and hear the conversations of students.
- Take pictures of the campus as it can help you in comparing facilities later.
- Walk into any academic building of your interest and interact with the professors if possible. You can say ‘Hi’ and introduce yourself, or you can make an appointment.
- Take a look inside the classrooms, dining hall, and library, if the tour permits. This will help you to determine what kind of learning atmosphere is most appealing to you. You’ll be able to better imagine your future with the college.
- Walk around the student union; see what it feels like.
- Visit the dorm rooms and talk to students staying there. Ask them what staying there feels like; are they happy?
- You must go to student support services and ask questions if you have learning issues.
- Do visit the religious place on the campus. Even if you don’t have any spiritual side, it will tell you about the culture and religious practice that they follow.
- Sit and observe the canteen or nearby coffee shop.
- Explore the counseling department. Often students encounter mental health issues during education. It’s critical that the particular college takes mental health seriously, and talking with counselors will provide you better insights on this.
- Check the gym facilities if you are a health-conscious person. Do they have intramural activities?
- Just roam around the campus for some time, make yourself feel at home. Observe the behavior of students as it can convey a lot about the college culture.
These points will let you examine the vibe of the college and, more importantly, make you aware if you actually fit there. If you can visualize yourself studying in the campus, you might have found your match. But remember not to rush and spend as much time as you need to analyze things. Trust your guts and take your decisions keeping your worries aside.
And Here Are Some Extra tips
Visiting a college campus provides you an opportunity to interact with students studying there. While you can also interact with experts like faculty financial aid and admission officers, student interaction should be your top priority. You can gain a better perspective of the college because the students have already been in your shoes and would’ve gone through the same cycle of shortlisting colleges as you. They’ve been through the same experience, so they can tell you what is best.
Here are some questions that you might want to ask the students there:
- What do you like about the school?
- What would be the one thing that you’d like to change?
- What is the average class size or student-professor ratio?
- What is the general atmosphere?
- What do you and your friends do at weekends?
- What are the campus meal plans?
- How does the food taste? What are the options?
- How is the canteen? Can we sit there in free time?
- Is the campus reasonably diverse?
- Is there any café or coffee shop nearby?
- What are the other social activities available?
- For what time can we use the library? Can we stay late even if it’s not mid or final terms?
- Is there any other place than the library where we can study?
- Are there any commuters? How many campus residents are there?
- Is there plenty of dorm space? Is it comfortable to stay?
- What about the student support services? Do they cost extra?
Can’t visit? Here are some alternatives
Often, college visits are not an option for many, as everyone can’t afford a personal visit to all prospects. Also, distance and accommodation can be another challenge that can deprive you of this opportunity. Sometimes even if you plan a visit, there can be issues in scheduling the tour, and more often than not, limited students will be allowed to attend. If all options are closed for a college visit, you need not worry as there are some exciting alternatives if you intend to seek more information.
If the distance is an issue, try including colleges that are close to you and are financially practical. You can visit a rural school or close by city schools to get a perspective of a college education. If a campus visit is out of the question for a particular school, you can do some in-depth digging on the internet to know about that college's vibe. Often, colleges have visual tours uploaded on their websites or YouTube channels that can provide essential insights into college facilities. But amid all this, do not forget to isolate authentic information from advertised claims. You can use websites such as niche.com or Fiske guide for credible information. These websites can also let you in on events and activities happening in that particular college. You can also refer to some of the raking websites that list colleges based on the facilities provided.
Another source of relevant information can be social media channels. Almost all colleges are active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. You can get in touch with them through social media platforms for important information such as upcoming events, tour schedules, etc. You can also connect with alumni network as the best judge of a college are students that have studied there. You can request an informal interview or just connect with current students.
College fairs are another way to demonstrate your interest to the representatives of top-choice colleges. Colleges invest a lot to promote their name and often participate in college fairs to make students aware of the opportunities they hold for them. You can visit such fairs and collect information in the form of flyers and brochures.
College visits should definitely be a part of your plan while exploring options for higher education. Visiting the campus will help you gain critical insights and also help you picture your future there. If you can’t afford to visit all options, filter out choices based on distance and finances. It would be best if you tried to visit a few local colleges and definitely consider those that teach your areas of interest. During the visit, wander around and talk to students; you would want to soak in as much as you can. Be sure that you have ticked all the boxes when it comes to the facilities you were looking for. If you cannot visit some colleges, dig into the virtual world for information about that specific college. You can consider social media channels and websites for relevant videos and virtual tours. Be careful to follow a holistic approach and don’t be misguided by advertised content. You can also get in touch with the alumni network for information.