Starting as high school sophomores and juniors, students begin their journey of deciding where to attend college. An important step in the process is visiting college campuses to get a more hands-on feel of what being a student would be like.
The Daily Circuit spoke with two people who are close to the college admissions process for their perspective. The conversation produced some useful tips for prospective students and families.
10 questions to guide your college visit:
1. What does the campus feel like? Eat in the cafeteria. Try the ice cream machine and the waffle maker.
2. Do classes seem too hard or too easy for you? Visit a class. Can you understand what the professor is saying?
3. Is the classroom environment comfortable? How many students are in most classes?
4. How is campus security? You might have to walk back to your dorm late at night; is the campus well lit? Are there enough emergency call boxes?
5. Is the student body diverse enough to make you feel at home?
6. Does the campus have enough study space? Even during finals?
7. Does the campus or the surrounding area offer job opportunities for students who need to work?
8. What's the ratio of tenure-track professors to adjuncts?
9. What percentage of freshmen come back for sophomore year?
10. Will the school let you take courses in your proposed major early on, or require that you take only general-education courses at first?
Meet the experts.
Talk to the current students - they may soon be your peers. If they have a problem or grievance, they will probably share it with you. If they love their school, they won't be shy about it either. Specific questions yield far more interesting (and helpful) answers.
Be a student for a day (or night).
Some schools sponsor overnight programs in which you can stay with a current student. This is a great opportunity to get a deeper sense of campus life and interact with your potential future friends and roommates.
Even if you don't stay over, most schools will allow you to sit in on lectures. Browse the course catalogue before you arrive, or ask the admissions office what classes are in session that day.
Save the best for last.
You'll get better at visiting colleges with practice. As you compare schools, you pick up on the aspects you like and the aspects you're not so fond of. You also figure out the right questions to ask, as well as the best campus spots to gauge student life. For that reason, visit your favorite schools last, so you'll be in the best position to make comparisons to the others on your list.
How much do you think your college visit really reflected what campus life would be like? Leave a comment below.