It’s almost the holidays – have you booked your campus tour? School vacations are an unusually busy time of the year for guided tours as prospective students take advantage of days off to visit campus. If you have yet to schedule a campus tour or are trying to schedule and finding everything booked, fear not. Campus visit season – typically the summer before junior year throughout the fall of senior year (even earlier if a student expresses interest) – provides many opportunities to research colleges. Here are my best tips for making this season a successful one:
Embrace the initial stage you are in.
Campus visits are best thought about in stages before, during, and after the application process. Knowing your stage helps you plan effectively and maximize your options. For those in the pre-application stage, this initial period is all about research. Online resources, including the campus website and virtual tour, high school information sessions, and college fairs are cost-effective, efficient ways to gather initial information about colleges of interest to you. Spend time each month enjoying these resources to get a sense of institutional match (a college or university's academic suitability for you) and fit (beyond academic considerations to include your financial, personal, and social needs).
Time your visit well!
The selection and application process is an excellent time to physically visit the campus and meet with campus resources. Open houses and self-guided tours are valuable ways to experience the campus culture and better assess fit. Prioritize these visits during the weekday to get a true glimpse of student activity and academics while classes are in session (be sure to check the academic calendar to avoid readings days or exams).
Schedule meetings and prepare smart questions.
A month before your visit, check out the college website to learn about specific department and office hours and the best way to schedule an informational meeting. Prepare a list of questions and always double check to ensure the answers are not easily found on the website – better to arrive with a short list of unique questions to discuss than a long list of common FAQs.
Prepare to return if accepted.
The decision making process typically merits another visit to campus to make a final choice. Plan on attending programs for accepted students and if given the option, stay overnight. If you haven’t already done so, eat in the dining hall, talk to current students, hang out in the student center, and sit in on a class. You’ll want to consider all of this information before making your final choice while trusting your gut instinct about your best fit.
Counselor. Mentor. Dream Developer. I am a veteran college and career consultant helping clients of all ages prepare and perform for success!