Spring and the promise of warmer weather can put a wanderlust in families looking to find the perfect vacation. For those families with eyes on college for their student, making college visits a part of their vacation itinerary can be fun and productive at the same time.
College visits not only offer the single best way for college-bound students to see potential colleges fit with their educational plans, but these trips can also introduce a college-going mindset to younger students or siblings who can see what college offers and begin aspiring to the academic goals to get there one day. College visits are hardly daunting and can add a brief, and fun, addition to the family vacation.
Scheduling the visit
While it may be tempting to “drop in” on a campus just to take a look around, families with students who are truly interested in learning more about a particular college will benefit from scheduling an official visit. Most colleges will allow online scheduling and will usually include a guided campus tour, an information session and often a chance to speak with professors in areas of academic interest..
Another advantage of scheduling the visit can come at admissions time, as some colleges track “demonstrated interest” and may consider the fact that a student visited campus when making admissions decisions. Informational sessions might also include information about financial aid or scholarships which might sway interest about applying to the school.
Seeing the campus
While an official visit will give students a good idea of what to expect in the classroom, taking time to tour the campus and ask questions will give a sense of what to expect from the daily campus life. Tour guides are expected to be asked, and answer, questions from perspective students. But visitors might find that taking time to ask other people they meet about life at the campus will result in a variety of answers that provide a much more rounded sense of what it means being student at that particular school. Picking up a copy of the campus newspaper or other publications will introduce prospective to issues and other voices that might not be represented on the official tour. Don’t be afraid to ask about both the positives and the flaws about life on campus. It’s always better to know what to expect ahead of time.
Exploring the areas of campus not on the tour will also give students a fuller sense of the daily experience the campus will offer. Knowing the distance between the freshman dorms and the classes or finding where amenities like health services or the gym can help students prepare for the types of things that would otherwise not discover until they were on campus.
Taking the next step
If taking a campus visit to a school as a junior or senior in high school, it will be worth the extra time to dig a little deeper while visiting. Speaking with professors in areas of student interest will start to give an idea if pursuing a particular major will be more or less difficult. Meeting with an admissions counselor will not only provide useful information for the application process, but counselors will note the added interest which might benefit a student’s chances of acceptance when their application is reviewed. Many campuses also offer overnight stays. Seeing the full day (and night) of a college student will provide a much more thorough perspective of college life than a shorter visit.