College visits are important; that fact has already been well established. But why are they so important? This is something you must understand before you embark on one of these trips or else it could very possibly end up being a waste of time. Going on a college visit just to follow a tour guide around and then be able to say you were physically there is not why you should be doing this. Choosing the college you will attend is one of the biggest decisions of your life and heading over to the campus for a day or two will be one of the most helpful factors in your decision-making – if you go about it with the right mindset.
The best way to prepare is to make a list of everything you want to get out of your college experience. This can range from types of academic programs, to quality of the apartments, to the prevalence of Greek life, to the atmosphere of the town. Know exactly what it is you want and then get all the answers you need on your visit. Tour guides are students themselves who are trained to know about many if not all of these things, so they are an incredibly helpful source. If you want an adult perspective, set up a meeting with an Admissions Counselor who will be more than happy to have a productive conversation with you. But sometimes, the best way you can get your questions answered is simply by experiencing life on campus for a day. Take a walk around town, hang out in dorm lobbies, casually pass by and observe a lecture hall, sit on the quad. This is the kind of stuff no book or website can illustrate for you as well as directly seeing it can.
But sometimes you won’t even know what to look for or where to look for it, which is why researching the university in question before you visit is also important. Find out where most students live, where the best tailgating spots are, which building you want to avoid having any classes in, which restaurant has the best late-night food. Insider tips like this will really guide you through a college town so you can understand what it’s all about on a more personal level, behind the glossy Admissions pamphlets.
Basically, your college visit should never have a boring moment. Every second should be spent actively looking to uncover every aspect of what it’s like to be a student there. By the time it’s over, you should either feel excited, disappointed, or indifferent – the point is that you will have developed a clear idea of what you’d be experiencing on that campus so one of those feelings can rise out of it. Just think, it’s better you get those understandings and feelings now rather than after move-in day. Whether they are positive or negative, they will point you in the direction of choosing the college that is right for you.