Complete Guide to Campus Visits: Here’s What You Should Take From Them
Visiting campuses as a potential student can be a bit daunting. You want to enjoy the experience, but you don’t want to waste your time. In this guide, we’ve tried to consolidate all the most important information you need to know about campus visits into an easy-to-read format. We cover how you should prepare for campus visits, what you’ll get out of them, and how you should follow up afterward.
1. Goals for Your Campus Visit
When you visit a college campus, you typically have a list of things you want to see and experience. You want to see the dorms, the dining hall, and the student union. You want to hear about the academic programs and activities. You want to learn how you’ll meet your financial needs. You want to hear about their admissions process.You want to see the student conduct process and athletics.
You want to experience a speaking engagement, an interaction with a faculty member, or a laboratory tour. You want your interaction to generate an emotional bond that leads to good student decisions. You want to experience great service. You want to spend your money well. In short, you want everything on campus to turn your experience into a positive one.
It’s important that your visit is memorable but it will likely last only a few hours. Your time is money. So, try to optimize your visit to capture as much of it as possible. This guide does include a section on how to arrange a campus visit. Follow the instructions and you’ll leave campus knowing everything you need to know as a prospective student.
Your visit can include:
- Greeting and goodbye meetings with admissions and department personnel, where you’ll talk about your plans for the upcoming school year
- A tour of campus life, such as student apartments, lecture halls, dining halls, and residence hall living
- Intra-campus activities, such as activities surrounding a sports team’s game
- Evaluation of financial aid packages
- Location and walking directions to major areas of campus
- Exciting plans you have for the future, what you hope to achieve, and an overview of your expected class schedule, major, and extracurricular activities
These details can enhance your experience and put a dent in stress, making your visit memorable.
2. How to Prepare For a Campus Visit
When you get accepted to a college, one of the first things you’re probably going to have to do is prepare for a campus visit. A campus visit is basically a chance for you to go visit the university and for the university to show you around. Even if you think you’re not a stressed-out person, going to a university always requires your full attention.
Be sure to talk to your host about your schedule, any dangerous substances that could affect your well-being, any important deadlines that need to be aligned, and any mandatory pre-requisites. You should show up and take notes during the tour; but of course, don’t leave anything behind if you don’t have to. This prevents any misunderstandings (or the visit from getting shut down for any other reason) later.
Next, identify a specific time slot for your visit, ideally between 10 AM–3 PM.
The aim of a university visit is to familiarize your taste buds with the university environment. Your campus visit should feel like a homecoming of sorts. The goal of the visit is to familiarize yourself with all university-related activities, activities that may or may not be of any interest to you, and their timetables.
Brainstorm a list of questions ahead of time. Write them down on paper. Make sure you don’t let your tour guide(s) go without covering what’s on your list.
3. What You’ll Get Out of a Campus Visit
A campus visit is an important part of the college decision-making process. During your visit, you’ll learn about the school’s academics, student life, campus culture, and meet with current students and faculty. You can also get a feel for the campus environment and get a sense of how the school “feels”.
Please note that this guide is not intended to replace the advice of your college’s admissions office, counselors, or other advisors. Please do not hesitate to contact them for more information on your specific situation.
If you’re applying to several schools, try to pick a few that you truly like, that you’re excited about, and that have high rankings in the upcoming term. This is especially important for early applicants, who are evaluated based on their test scores and other factors. These schools may require a higher overall GPA, more letters of recommendation, and interviews.
If you’re applying to a few high-ranking schools, make sure that they are schools that you would be interested in attending if you received a full, or near-full, financial aid award. Check the current rankings of each school you’re considering. The purpose of a campus visit is to “see” a campus and determine whether or not the school matches your personal profile.
4. How To Follow Up After a Campus Visit
Get the contact information for all the specific individuals that you came into contact with during your visit. Ask them what works best for them when it comes to reaching out. Most of your peers will probably want to touch base via social media or text. Pay close attention to their preferences. Ask them if it’s okay to visit them another time, or when the best time to connect might be. In all likelihood, they’ll be in touch with you before you will be with them. After all, they want you at their school. That said, don’t hesitate to Q-bomb them with any questions that arise about the subtleties and complexities of the university along the way.
5. Additional Resources
Here are some of the websites that we use when doing research:
- College (College Navigator)
- College Board (Search for schools)
- US News (Search for schools)
- PayScale College ROI (College Payoff)
There are some good resources you can use after a campus visit to help you decide which school is right for you. The Princeton Review has an online tool where you can compare different schools side-by-side. This tool allows you to compare the rankings and statistics of schools based on your preferences.
The US News and World Report College Rankings have been around for years and they’re a great place to find unbiased information about what a school has to offer. The rankings take into account all aspects of a school, from the school’s reputation to the cost of tuition.
Campus Visits Will Help You Make Perhaps the Most Important Decision of Your Life
That said, don’t base it all on your experience there. You are going to college to build a career and plan for the next chapter of your life. It’s easy to get hung up on culture when doing so, but the academic programs are important as well. That’s why we recommend you make your decision based on a variety of factors. Really take the time to compare and contrast, so that you can be certain you’re making the most educated decision for your specific major.
Now it’s your turn. Did you put a lot of weight on campus visits? What were the major factors that went into your final decision? Share your experience in the comments section below!
[Featured Image via Flickr Creative Commons]