Tips from Counselors for College Planning: The Importance of College Visits

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You’ve made the decision to go to college! Good for you! While you work filling out FAFSA forms and seeking financial aid for your next step in education, it’s important to start thinking about WHERE that next step will take place. You’ll hear the words “college fit” often used to describe making right match of school with student.  But if you don’t know what the experience of that college is like, how can you know if it’s the right fit?

That’s where college visits come in, the value of which is stressed by Susan Langan, counselor at Cedar Falls High School:

College visits are critical and available at all schools. The internet can show you what a campus looks like, you could even read student and professor blogs. But nothing is like visiting a campus in person to see what the school is really like.

Rather than waste gas or rack up frequent flyer miles, narrow down list of potential campus visits to your top three schools. Then check out each college’s website for information on how to contact the admissions office and get something set up.

Before you head off to your visit, make appointments to make sure that you get vital information first-hand. Carving out some time with an admissions representative, someone from the financial aid office and a professor from the area of a possible major will give you details to help you make a smart decision about applying and attending the school.

But since school is more than numbers, it’s important to get a sense of campus life. That’s why it’s important to visit a campus when classes are in session. Being able to walk around campus will give you an idea of how crowded the library gets, if dorm life will be too overbearing or where you’ll be able to buy books or get a good bite to eat.

For those schools that you can’t physically travel to see, prospective students can still get a sense of target schools by talking to representatives at college fairs, school alumni or even taking a virtual tour online.

If you’re looking for a place to start, Iowa private colleges have teamed up to offer a week dedicated to learning more about private colleges in August, 2015. To learn more visit their website.


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