Spring is a great time for college-bound juniors and their families to visit college campuses. As juniors prepare for the college admissions process in the fall, they need to be building and refining their college lists – and one of the best ways to get to know a college is to visit the campus and attend an admissions information session to learn more about the school, its programs, and what it takes to gain admission.
While college visits should be a fun family experience, they still need to be taken very seriously. After all, things like visiting a campus and connecting with admissions officials factor into demonstrated interest – a consideration when making admission decisions.
College visits are also an expense that many families forget to factor into their budgets, so it’s critical to plan ahead and make sure students are getting the most out of the experience, as it may be their only chance to see the campus before making an admission decision.
Before You Go
While spontaneous college visits can be helpful in the preliminary stages of building a college list, students and parents should put more consideration into spring college visits during junior year.
- Research. Learn everything you can about a school online before visiting. Do research on your intended program of study, activities, professors, campus life, etc. This way, you’ll be prepared with questions and can spend a majority of your time experiencing the school itself rather than wasting precious time on details you could have learned before you got to campus.
- Register for information sessions and tours. This is important as it creates a record of your visit – something that’s key to demonstrating interest. It also allows families to start planning an itinerary and gives them the opportunity to meet with admissions officers and get their questions answered.
- Arrange to meet with a professor or advisor in your program of choice. You want to make sure a program is a good fit, and meeting with a professor or advisor is a great way to assess that. This is will also give students more insight into the major’s expectations and will help them shape convincing essays about why they may want to attend that school.
- See if you can spend the night in a representative dorm. This is another way to get a feel for the campus life and assess whether or not a campus is a good fit for you.
- Make a plan to visit local restaurants and places of interest. Depending on the location, the surrounding community can be just as important as the campus itself. Research local hot spots and add them to your itinerary.
- Reach out to students you may know already attending. If you have a friend who attends the college you’re visiting, see if they’d be available to meet you while you’re on campus. They can give you an inside look at the campus and point you in the direction of activities or sites that might interest you.
During The Visit
Simply showing up isn’t enough. Parents and students need to be active participants, paying attention to presentations, asking questions, and taking notes. Students should take the lead, staying at the front of tours and asking relevant questions in information sessions.
If you’re meeting with professors or current students, be sure to ask detailed questions and have a productive conversation. This is your opportunity to learn more about the school and how you’ll fit in, so make sure you’re getting the information you need. Take detailed notes that you can easily reference later when refining your college list.
Another great thing to do while on campus is take some time to explore on your own after your official tour and information session. Walk around campus and the surrounding community and take in the sights and sounds. This is also a great opportunity to take more detailed notes about the campus itself. Jot down details about specific places on campus, landmarks, professors, classes, and more. Not only does this encourage you to highlight your favorite aspects of the school, it’s also a great foundation for your supplemental essays, like the common “why this college?” essay prompt.
After The Visit
Your work is not done! Follow up with your tour guide, admissions officers, and anyone else you met with to say thank you and ask any questions you may have now that you’ve had time to digest all the information you gathered.
Following up with admissions officers after a campus visit is also another way to demonstrate interest and open a line of communication that can come in handy during application season. If you have any questions or concerns while applying, you’ll have a resource to help you.
Also, continue to revise and review your notes on your initial impression of the school. As you go through your notes after the visit and consider essays topics, you might recall details of interest that you previously dismissed. It’s important to take some time after your visit to reflect on the experience and how you see yourself fitting into the college community.
If You Can’t Make It to Campus
For many, a trip to the physical campus may not be possible. While a visit to the school is ideal, there are other ways to explore the campus and learn more about the school outside of online research. Find out if a representative will be visiting your school or attending a local college fair. Make an effort to introduce yourself and open a line of communication. There are also a number of virtual campus tour tools, like Quad2Quad and YouVisit. Many schools also have their own apps that give students an inside look at the campus and the admissions process. Utilize these resources in order to learn more about a particular college and if it’s a good fit for you or not.
With so many schools to visit and so little time, planning a college visit trip can become overwhelming. At IvyWise, we offer comprehensive college visit planning services that take the pressure off of families and allow them to have an impactful campus visit experience. From suggesting travel and lodging, to booking tours, information sessions, class audits and more, we can help you plan the most efficient and effective college visit trip. Contact us today for more information on our college visit planning services.
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