It’s that time of year again! If you’re lucky enough to tour the colleges of your dreams before submitting your application, then you need to arrive prepared. In order to make the most out of your experience, here is a checklist of everything you must do while you’re on campus.
Reach Out to Current Students Before Your Visit
At whatever college you’re visiting, I can bet that there’s at least one current student there who used to go to your high school or was on the same soccer team as you. Take advantage of your network and reach out to those students before you even get on your flight. Politely introduce yourself if you don’t know them personally and ask how they’re doing. Mention that you’re headed to their campus soon and that you’d love to chat, grab a coffee, or meet up about everything their university has to offer. I know reaching out can be difficult, but keep in mind that these students most likely love their school and are eager to tell you all about it!
Sign Up for Tours, Interviews, and Professor Meetings Before
Check out the school’s website before your visit to see if you can sign up for campus tours, interviews, and/or meetings with professors. Campus tours are usually led by current students who will take you through all the notable parts of campus and tell you lots of facts you might not be able to find on the website. At some schools, you might be able to interview with someone from the admissions office. Doing one of these interviews could show your demonstrated interest in the school and help you gain admission to the college. Finally, see how you can sit in on lectures happening during your visit. Oftentimes, schools will have a list of lectures you can freely attend or they’ll require you to reach out to the professor ahead of time.
Talk to Current Students When You Arrive
The best way to figure out the vibe of a certain college and see if you’d fit in is by speaking to the current students who you’ve never met before. This is as simple as walking up to a student sitting on the grass, introducing yourself, and asking if you could take 5 minutes of their time. Make sure you prepare questions beforehand, including but not limited to how they chose this school, what their favorite part is, and what they would change about the school. You’ll get a sense of how proud students are of their campus and you’ll likely find out new information about the school that you can’t find on the website! Try to talk to as many students as possible so you have a full perspective of the varied student body.
Try the Food!
Stop by as many dining halls as possible and spend the money to try the food you might be eating for the next few years. While food might not be a dealbreaker for most people, it’s a good indicator of what your quality of life will be like if you apply to this college. Moreover, pay attention to the conversations that the current students around you are having and notice how students treat the workers on campus. These little nuances can give you a better idea of what being a student on that campus would be like.
Check Out the Living Situation
I cannot stress this enough - where you will be living and sleeping has a profound impact on your college experience. Most people focus on the campus itself, but in reality, most college students are only on campus for a few hours each day for classes. You’ll spend the majority of your time in your dorm, so make sure you can see yourself living there. Most campus tours will go through the dorms, but if not, try to ask your alumni connections if you could check their room out.
Explore the Surrounding Community
You will not be spending the next 4 years cooped up in the campus bubble, so be sure to see if you’re going to like the surrounding city or town. Make sure to check out the main attractions and try as many famous restaurants as possible. Asking current students for recommendations is also another point of conversation for you. Ask yourself if you can see yourself belonging not just in the student body but in the wider community as well.
Many students are able to buy a plane ticket and get to campus, but in order to make the most out of your visit, it’s crucial that you follow all the steps in this checklist. Fully immersing yourself during your visit will not only help you decide whether or not you’d be a good fit at the school, but it’ll also give you valuable insight you can write about in your college essay applications. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (408) 216-9109.