By Penny Deck, M.Ed., CEP
Director of Counseling & College Services
Spring is here! That means it’s prime time for visiting colleges. Whether you’re just beginning your college search or have narrowed down your top picks, careful research will help you with your college selection process. The best way to size up an institution and determine fit is by visiting the campus. Before you hit the road, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind!
DO plan your visit in advance. Showing up cold makes it more difficult for the visit to meet your needs and ensure you see what you want to see. Since tours try to cover a lot of ground, they don’t often delve deep into specific departments or interests. By calling in advance, you might be able to request add-ons like a meeting with a faculty member or a special tour of a particular department.
DO allow adequate travel time, factoring in traffic, getting lost, and parking.
DO visit colleges when the students are there. You are more likely to get the true campus vibe and feel for the social and academic scene when the college is in full swing.
DO sit in on a class, if time allows. Some schools have a master list of classes that you can pick from. You can arrange this in advance through the admissions department.
DO attend a school-related event, such as an athletic event, a theater production or a concert. This is another way to get a feel for the social scene at the college.
DO talk to students on campus other than the tour guide. Getting more candid perspectives is always a good thing!
DO ask questions that you want answers to; this is not a time to be shy! You’ll be living at your college for the next four years, you should know everything you need to know before you commit.
DO wear comfortable clothing and shoes but be presentable. You want to make a good impression. And be prepared for any kind of weather.
DON’T try to visit too many schools in one day. Usually two in one day is the most you can visit and still remember what you heard, saw, and experienced.
DON’T let your parent(s) do all the talking. They should be supportive bystanders but this is YOUR visit.
DON’T hesitate to go beyond the standard tour if you want to see particular things and to gather your own impressions.
DON’T forget to take notes and journal your thoughts and impressions.
DON’T forget to take lots of pictures. When you arrive at a college, your first picture should be of something with the name of the school on it, e.g., a sign, a t-shirt, a folder, etc., so that you will know which college is represented in the pictures.