The college visit is a key part of the admissions process. You, along with your . . . competition (for lack of a better word) will wait in a the lobby of the admissions office.
You all will pretend to read the admissions brochures, but you are really just spying on everyone else.
The parents seem even more anxious and make no attempts to hide their critical gaze upon the room. You might even see a pushy mother poking her child in the back to sit up more straight. During the information session you’ll listen intently during the Q and A. If a student asks an obvious question you can just chortle to yourself:
What an absolutely INANE question. That means one less person for me to worry about.
After the info session you and your fellow students will be herded out onto the campus grounds for a guided tour. The day follows up with a long car ride where your parents will dissect the visit and tell you you’ll need to work harder.
Doesn’t that sound great?
While this is the default, in terms of college visits, the experience gives you so much opportunity to learn about a prospective school.
As I am sure you could infer from the introduction to this post, you should not worry about what the other students are doing. They don’t matter, because they have nothing to do with the school. In reality, only a few will wind up attending the school.
To get the most out of a college visit, students should plan on showing up a bit early. This gives you ample opportunity to soak it all in and mosey around campus. It also will ensure that you will be on campus, and not need to worry about parking or rushing to get to the admissions building. Use this walk to get a feel for the campus. When doing this, you need to ask yourself:
Could I call this place home for the next four years?
This applies to the students too. How are they interacting with each other? Do they seem friendly? Try asking students questions about “where a good place to get coffee is” or “where the library is.” You can get a good gauge of what the students are like through this. Do they make eye contact? Do they offer a few suggestions? If you do this a few times, you will begin to see a pattern regarding the culture of the school.
I always like to ask where to get coffee, because I usually need a cup at this point and I want to ensure that the coffee is excellent. If possible, try to check out the student coffee shop, so you can examine student life and enjoy your java.
Throughout the college visit, you will be handed all sorts of brochures and pamphlets discussing the schools study abroad program or their new neuroscience laboratory. In short, any school will look great if you judge it by their marketing. The truest and most useful piece of literature you can pick up is a copy of the school newspaper. You can see what sorts of problems the school has, how well the students write, and what issues they care about.
Overall, the campus visit is an integral part of your college search. Yes, options such as virtual tours do have merit, but they cannot be substituted with getting to experience the campus and the school in person.