College Preparation & Planning

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Make the Most of a College Visit

Planning ahead can help you get the most from campus visits.

Research the College

You should do some research on the college before you arrive on its campus, especially if you have an interview scheduled. Here are a few ways to get ready:
  • Review the school's viewbooks, course catalogs and any other information of interest.
  • Spend some time surfing the college's website.
  • Talk to currently enrolled students or alumni about the college.
  • Some college website let you contact them online, or you can get their numbers from the admissions office. You may also want to take advantage of these resources to make sure that you'll have a chance to answer any of your own questions.

Schedule Your Trip

Pick a time that's convenient to your family, but make sure the school is in session. That way, you can sit in on a lecture or stay in a dorm overnight. You'll only get a true feel for the campus if you are there on a day when classes are in full swing. Schedule the time you spend on campus to make sure you experiences the parts of campus life that are most important to you:
  • Find out how often college tours run, and if you have to sign up in advance.
  • To save time, get a map of the school. You don't want to spend half your day trying to park or find the admissions office.
  • If an interview is suggested, be sure to make an appointment. Also, consider meeting with the financial aid officer.
  • If you're curious about a club, program or a sport, arrange to attend a practice, rehearsal, or meeting.
The campus visit is really meant to help you get a feel for the college. It is very important that you are able to explore the college. If you're traveling with  family, you should plan to occupy other family members with alternate activities while you explores the campus in depth.

Pack a Camera and Notebook

Was it X College or Y University that had that excellent exercise equipment in the gym? Where did I talk to that helpful psychology professor? You may think you'll remember everything, but you may be surprised how colleges start to merge after you've seen a few. Plan in advance about how you can record your impressions, and any crucial information, for future reference. Consider bringing a notebook and camera, if possible.

What's Important to You

You should make a list of what college characteristics are most important, so you know what to look for when you arrives. Check out the class size. See what the Greek system is like on campus.Talk to current students or professors in that department.  Once you develop a list of preferences, take it to the schools that you plan to visit, and compare each school to the list when you get back home.

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