Campus information sessions are great tools for narrowing down your list from colleges of interest to final choice schools. But as with any major “purchase” or life decision, it’s crucial to have a strong idea of what you want before deciding.
Prepare ahead of time for information sessions by determining what you want from your college experience and finding ways to measure the school against that during the session.
Schedule your session
Most schools allow prospective students to register for information sessions online, and they often recommend doing so at least three weeks in advance. After scheduling, make sure to note the location, time, cancellation policy, and contact information of the session in your calendar—that way, if something comes up or you have to rush to get there the day of, you’ll be prepared!
Make a checklist
Next, sit down with your family and make a list of what you want from the school you ultimately choose. What kind of social life are you hoping for? Are large student-to-teacher ratios okay with you, or will it make learning difficult? Think about issues like tuition costs, scholarship and internship opportunities, campus safety, dorm quality, a focus on faculty research versus teaching, or even the climate.
Next, turn that list into a checklist that you can bring to each school’s information session. It might be best to separate items on the checklist into needs vs. wants. This will give you an objective way to compare schools based on what you decided beforehand. While it will most likely be useful and candid, an information session is also partly a sales pitch crafted by the school to convince people to apply, so it’s important for you to arrive with a firm idea of your own goals in mind.
Do your research
After you’ve crafted your checklist, make sure to research basic information about the school so you can ask more specific questions at the session. Visit the university or college’s website and social media pages, and write down any questions you have after looking through them. Learn as much as you can about campus life, available majors, sport teams and clubs, and graduation or job placement statistics. If possible, you could even contact a current student to learn about his or her experience. If anything seems inconsistent or confusing, make a note of it.
If you’ve already visited a campus or two, think back to information that surprised you or excellent questions that other students or parents asked during the tour, and add those to your list.
Good preparation for campus information sessions can help mitigate outside influences and help you hone your list of schools using your own personalized criteria. Make sure to learn the basics from websites and social media beforehand, and use the information session to your advantage by asking follow-up questions about things that weren’t addressed online.
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