The Campus Visit
No brochure or view book, no matter how thorough, can give you a complete picture of a college or university. A campus visit is the best way to see for yourself what a college is like.
Advance planning with the college's admission office is important to help you make the most of your visit. Most colleges encourage campus visits, and many publish special brochures to help you plan one.
When you've decided to visit a campus call the admission office. Ask them for their campus tour schedule. Tell them the date you'd like to come and the approximate time you expect to arrive. If you want to stay overnight in a residence hall, ask if they can make arrangements.
During your visit, try to meet with someone from the admission office and take a tour of the campus. Talk to students, have a meal in the cafeteria (many colleges will treat you), and pick up copies of the student newspaper and alumni magazine.x Some colleges also can arrange for you to meet a professor who teaches a subject you enjoy, or a coach of a sport you play.-
People's views about a college or university can vary widely, so try to talk to as many people as possible. Whether your visit lasts an hour or a day, you should get all your questions answered.x You already may have thought of many questions. Here are some you might want to add to your list.
WHEN YOU TALK TO STUDENTS, ASK...
1. How many hours a week do you study? Is that typical of students here?
2. Are campus jobs readily available?
3. Are faculty members interested in students and accessible outside of class?
4. Do many students go home on weekends?
5. Is the food good?
6. Is it possible to study in your dorm room?
7. What's the library like as a place to study?...to do research?
8. What do you like most about this college?...least?
9. How easy is it to get the classes you want at registration?
10. If you had it to do again, would you still choose this college?
IF YOU ATTEND A CLASS, ASK YOURSELF...
1. Are students interested in the material?
2. Is there time for questions and discussion? Do students participate?
3. Are students prepared for the class?
4. Am I intellectually challenged by what is taking place in the class?
5. Do I feel that the students are learning, either new facts or new ways of thinking about a subject?
6. Is there good rapport between professors and students?
7. Would I feel comfortable as a student in this setting?
AS YOU TOUR THE CAMPUS, ASK YOURSELF...
1. Are the older buildings in good repair?
2. Are there new buildings as well as older ones?
3. Is lab equipment up-to-date and plentiful?
4. Are rooms in residence halls pleasant?...quiet enough to study in?
5. Are common areas in the residence halls attractive?x Are there laundry and kitchen facilities?
6. What's the cafeteria like?
7. Are the grounds well-kept?
8. Is the setting and architecture appealing?
9. What's the surrounding town or city like?x Would I feel comfortable here?
WHEN YOUR VISIT IS OVER...
Try to write down your impressions of the college while they're still fresh in your mind.x These questions may help you assess your visit.-
1. Were the people you met friendly and did they answer your questions fully and candidly?-
2. Did you feel that the students were the kind of people you'd like to get to know?-
3. Did you sense that the college was interested in having you as a student?-
4. Did you like the social atmosphere?-
5. Did the campus itself impress you in any way?-
6. What do you think about the quality of instruction?-
7. What do you feel about the academic demands and atmosphere?-
8. Would you like to spend more time there?-
IF YOU CANNOT VISIT...
Sometimes it's impossible for you to visit a campus. You can still get the feel of a college by talking to recent graduates or current students who are from your area. The college's admission office can give you the names of these people.x See your guidance counselor for the names of recent high school graduates who may be attending the colleges on your list.
Many college representatives travel to interview students in their homes or at schools or hotels nearby. Call the admission office to find out when a representative will be in your area and to make an appointment to see him or her.
Many colleges and universities have virtual tours on their web sites. There are two computers in the guidance office available to students for college research.
Tips for a successful campus visit from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority