The web offers a treasure trove of college information. From college websites to student review sites to rankings publications, there’s no shortage of resources for you to learn about the colleges you might apply to. Given all this detailed information, it might not seem necessary to physically visit college campuses—why take the time when a digital campus experience is at your fingertips?
Campus visits offer a unique perspective on a school, one that simply can’t be matched by a website, no matter how detailed or flashy it may be. Don’t take our word for it: In an annual national survey, nearly half of college freshman said that a campus visit was “very important” in making their college choice.
Since campus visits are an important part of picking a college, make sure you do these five things to make your college visits worthwhile!
Visit the Dorms
You’ll spend an awful lot of time in the dorms at whichever college you ultimately attend. When you check out the accommodations, you get two important sources of information: your own observations of the living quarters (the bathroom is how small?!?) and the chance to interact with current students.
Students will be more likely to chat with you if you catch them in their natural habitats, away from an official campus tour. Ask about what the students love and hate about the school. Their responses will tell you a lot more than any admissions brochure.
Grade the Grub
We don’t have to tell you how important food is to your happiness and well-being. The dining halls are where you’ll eat a majority of your meals for as long as you live on campus, so check them out!
Dining options fall on a pretty wide spectrum. Some colleges dish up standard cafeteria fare, and others offer fast food options. Still other dining halls offer a fine dining experience to rival a four-star restaurant. A dinner menu at Bowdoin College might include lobster; a kale, blueberry, and apple salad with cranberry vinaigrette; or locally-sourced, grass-fed beef burgers.
Make It Official
Colleges take demonstrated interest into consideration when making admissions decisions. After all, they prefer to admit students who are more likely to ultimately enroll. Your campus visits offer opportunities to demonstrate interest.
Start by taking an official tour. Signing up for the tour makes your visit official, which shows the admissions office that you were interested enough in the school to travel there for a visit. Speaking of the admissions office, consider stopping by. Be polite and professional and come prepared with any admissions questions you might have.
Visit Your Prospective Academic Department
If you’ve already settled on a major, use your visit as a chance to meet the teachers, see the classrooms, and learn more about the program you’re enrolling in. It’s considerate to call or email in advance, so you can be sure faculty will have time to meet with you.
Many colleges will allow you to sit in on a lecture or two during your visit, which gives you a feel for the classroom experience and lets you check out some of your potential professors in action.
If the college requires an essay or writing supplement explaining why you wish to attend this school, a visit to your prospective academic department will allow you to write a far more nuanced response. You’ll be able to knowledgeably discuss the opportunities you hope to explore at the college since you’ll have already checked out what’s available.
Check Out the Extras
Don’t forget to see what the school has to offer in terms of athletic facilities, activity centers, and the bookstore. Go off the beaten path to discover some of the hidden gems on campus. Consider asking students what they think a prospective student should see that isn’t on any official tour.
Look at the campus as your potential home and scout the area accordingly. You might decide to spend several years there—make sure you know what you’re getting into.
College Counseling Help
Now that you know about the things you should do on every college visit, be sure to read our post on how to make sure you have a successful college visit. You can also learn more about finding the right college for you by visiting your nearest C2 Education center for a free college roadmap session!