It is starting to be that time of year where you are wanting to go and visit the colleges you are interested in attending. To be honest it seems like every time of year is college visiting season.
I remember visiting my first college during my junior year. I was just excited to skip some high school classes and get a taste of freedom.
How Many College Visits Should you Take?
Going on college visits is completely up to each individual person. Some people may go on 20 while other people may go on one. I applied to 20 colleges/universities and visited around 5. It worked for me, but that doesn’t mean that it will work for you.
If you are someone who overthinks everything and you know that you are going to be indecisive, visiting colleges is a good option for you. Some high schools are even starting to offer skip days for high schoolers to go on college visits or encourage them to go while the underclassmen are partaking in testing or other events.
Going to a college is so much different than looking at it online or talking to others about it.
Actually, seeing it and walking around campus can completely change your mind. My first college visit was to a school that I thought I would love. I had endlessly looked at pictures and I knew some girls who already went there.
Once I arrived on campus, I knew that it wasn’t for me.
I didn’t mesh with the people and it just wasn’t what I was looking for in a college. I never would have known that if I didn’t visit.
However, one of my friends chose her school without even visiting and ended up loving it. It just goes to show you that it really is up to each individual person. If you want to make sure that you hit all the stops while you are on campus, here are some tips.
Go into the Buildings
This may sound like common sense. Obviously, your tour guide will take you into the most important and easily accessible buildings including the libraries, gyms, etc. I encourage you to see if you can walk into some other buildings.
The tours only show you the best and most amazing buildings. It is so good to see everything else as well. Especially if your tour didn’t include the buildings where you are actually taking classes.
Let’s say you are a business student at least go walk around the college of business campus area. If you are a science student, then a walk around the labs might be a good idea. Even wondering to other parts of campus that weren’t shown on the tour is helpful.
It would be helpful to see where you would be learning and what it would be like to be a student. This may be the only time or one of only a few times that you will have to do this before you must make a decision.
You don’t want to regret not diving into every aspect of the campus while on your way home. You are about to possibly give them thousands of dollars in tuition, don’t be afraid to look around.
Try to See a Dorm
Some colleges are now giving students the option to tour a dorm while on your visit. If this is available, I highly encourage you to do it. It may even be offered separately through scholars, honors programs, etc.
If you are living on campus, the dorm situations are going to make huge differences in your lifestyle and overall college experience. They are obviously going to show you the nicest dorm on campus, but it still better than nothing If this isn’t offered, then see if you know someone on campus. If you do, then you could ask to stop by and see their living facilities.
It is also nice to view the bathrooms, study rooms, common areas, kitchenettes, etc.
There is so much to think about when first applying and choosing colleges that any little bit of information helps especially when it comes to living Education is obviously always going to be your top priority when choosing, but the living situation definitely makes a difference.
Try the Food
This may also sound like common sense, however, it is important. If you have a chance or the time, I really encourage you to try the campus food. Don’t go to the biggest dining hall on campus or the place that everyone raves about because that is normally where the best food is because it is where most visitors and faculty go.
Stop by a few random food places on campus and try it out. If you end up picking that college, you are going to be eating this food every day for at least 1-2 years while you are on a meal plan. Even after you are of a meal plan, you will probably still be grabbing this food occasionally.
Obviously, if you don’t like the food there are some alternatives, but it is good to know what the food is like before you get there so you aren’t disappointed. It can also help you once you get to the stage of packing for college. This can help you decide how much food you do or do not need to bring.
Check out the Town/City
Most colleges are in a city with some being in large cities and others in smaller ones. The great thing about that is it gives you a chance to check out the local city area.
If the town is small, then getting to know the city might take one drive down the main street.
Now if the town is large like Washington DC, Chicago or Los Angeles then it may take a year or more of exploring to truly see the city.
I have a buddy who goes to American University in Washington DC. They go into town all the time to try new restaurants or bars. It is a fun adventure every time they go into the city.
I know you only have so much time on a college tour so go to the city a day before to check out what the local town has to offer. The next day you can take your campus tour.
Pay attention to Current Students
Look around! It is important to watch the students walk around through their daily lives.
Picture yourself there.
Picture yourself as that student.
This is one of the best ways that you can determine how you feel about the school. Also, pay attention to their moods and where they are studying, taking, etc. They are just living their daily lives as you walk through campus.
You get a small glimpse of what college students at this college or university do every single day. Maybe you can see some kids studying at the local coffee shop, or playing frisbee with some dogs. Just pay attention instead of just focusing on what the tour guide tells you. You don’t want to leave the tour feeling like you didn’t actually see anything.
Transportation Look Around
This is also a great chance to look for clues about transportation as a student. You can look and see if there are any cars or parking lots near the classrooms. If you are on a bigger campus, it is more unlikely that this will be a reoccurring theme, but small campuses often times offer a lot of parking.
You can also see how most students get around. See if there are a lot of students traveling on bikes, skateboards, longboards, roller skates, etc. You may also be able to spot Ubers, Lyfts, and bus routes. If you do notice these while on the tour, it is a great time to ask the tour guide.
If your college or university is in a bigger city maybe you can ask about bus transportation to other parts of the city. You can ask if bus fares are included in tuition or separate. These are the types of things that really enhance your overall college experience, so it important to pay attention, notice the details, and ask informative questions.
You can always schedule another major visit. Especially if the college you are interested in is far from home. If you pick this college, you don’t know when you will be here again before orientation or the start of school.
It is also important to drive around the city or town where your college is located and see what it is like. This is where you will be living for at least four years. See what other opportunities it has to offer.
Academics come first, but it is important that you make other great memories in this town or city as well. Maybe you can stop at a diner, coffee shop, ice-cream shop, etc. I did this on my first trip to the university where I am attending now, and it was so beneficial. I often eat at that same restaurant with my mother when she comes into town.
It is so important that you ask any questions that you have. This is the only time that you will have someone this readily available to ask even the nitty-gritty questions. These guides are literally getting paid to help you through this proves and help you see what this college or university is all about. Utilize them!
Overall, there are so many things to do while on college visits. There are no right or wrong answers to what you should or shouldn’t do, these are just some tips from my friends and my own experiences.
I hope that you take the time to research your choices, visit colleges, and see which opportunities are best for you. College is one of the most exciting times of your lives and you’re beginning the proves now!
You may also be interested in how many colleges you should apply to.