It’s time to discuss school visits! Visiting a college campus when students are present and classes are in session is one of the best ways to see what a college campus/town is like when you are a student. However, it’s not as straightforward as you may think. As a former admissions officer, I’ve seen many students come for campus visits. Some have done some really smart things and others have made mistakes that could easily be avoided. Here’s my recommendation of what to do and what not to do on a campus visit.
What to do on a campus visit:
Prior to the visit:
Try to schedule a few separate visits if possible. There are different schools of thought here - some people like to go before they narrow down their final list prior to applying and others think it’s best to go after they’ve already been admitted.
There’s no wrong answer here but it will come down to financing the trip and maybe your school schedule.
If you can’t visit the school, take advantage of virtual tours and chat with an admissions counselor, current students, and professors online.
Make sure you know what you’re signing up for (campus tour, group tour, individual meeting with a counselor, or financial aid officer).
Ask if you can shadow a class or stay the night with a student if that’s a possibility.
Visit during open-house days. This is when the university draws in larger crowds to showcase the facilities, campus, student body, student organizations/clubs, etc. You name it! This is typically an “all hands on deck” for universities because they want to recruit you!
Make sure you arrive early and know where to park. Campuses can be daunting! So make sure to read the email, print off parking passes if applicable, and wear comfortable walking shoes!
During the visit:
Wear comfy shoes. I understand the temptation to look your best and fit in with the students but trust me, there is nothing worse than bleeding blisters to distract you from an important experience. Choose the sneakers!
This is silly, but don’t wear another university’s sweater to a college campus you’re touring. If you listened to any of my advice or have seen our channels, I talked about how universities are now becoming marketers tracking student actions and taking notes on what you do. Yes–they’ll remember if you wore a rival sweater to a campus tour if you meet them!!
Don’t buy swag before the tour. That’s one of the worst things to do…carry all the stuff you just bought around a one-hour walking tour. YUCK! Save shopping for later on.
Ask questions and talk to current students. If you can catch the students who aren’t “scripting” answers it’s probably even better. Go to a campus courtyard or food court and approach some students. Tell them you want candid answers about their experiences.
Questions you can ask a group of students:
What are you studying here?
Why did you choose the school?
What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about campus?
What is something you wish you had known before you came here?
Sit in a coffee shop/cafeteria and check out the vibe.
Attend a class if possible. Talk to professors about their experience at the school and what they like in a student.
Visit a dorm. You could ask questions to the Resident Assistant or students there.
After the visit:
Send a note to the admissions counselor you’ve been working with. They track these kinds of things for your file. A handwritten note goes a long way.
Make notes for yourself. What did you like about the school, campus, academics, city, school size, or clubs? What did you not like? Write down notes about what people said. All of these things might come in handy later on when you are narrowing down your list or trying to decide between two schools.
Download our Full List of Questions
Get our free Campus Visit Questions download here, and if you have any additional questions, reach out! We are here to help!