Applying to college is difficult. There are thousands of choices, and it may be hard to figure out what school is a good fit for you. Going on college visits is a great way to see the campus, meet with professors, students, and admissions officials, and get a sense of what might make the school a good place for you to continue your education. But there are some important questions you should ask on your college visit so that you fully understand the culture of the school and get the most information possible.
Make sure you talk to a variety of students to get a sense of their experience at the college. It may be easy to talk to a freshman you know from your hometown, but make sure to meet upperclassmen who may be able to reflect better on their longer experience at the school. At many colleges, upperclassmen volunteer to lead campus tours so these students are front and center. You have their full attention and they’re always more than happy to answer your questions. Ask away!
- Are there many seminars, workshops, or special guest speakers for upperclassmen? These events are usually more in-depth explanations or applications of topics in a certain field.
- Do they have professors they count on as mentors who may be able to write them recommendations for grad school or jobs?
- Are they bored of the social life on campus after three or four years or is there always something to do?
- What options are available for on-campus as well as off-campus housing?
Older students may be able to give you better answers about campus life throughout your time in college.
Also get a sense of the academic and extracurricular offerings at the school, which will be important to your collegiate experience.
- What majors are available, and which are the most popular?
- How large are classes typically, and are there more lectures or small seminar type courses?
- Are students involved in clubs, sports teams, or other groups, and how important are those groups to their overall experience?
- How easy is it to get involved with a club sports team or the newspaper?
If you know what you will be majoring in, make sure to visit the department as well as the college. Your department will be just as (if not more) important than your college. Call the department office and ask about scheduling a visit, which usually takes place right after a usual campus tour. You will have the opportunity to speak with professors in the department, the department chair, as well as current students. You can go back through the questions above to get a sense of what life is like for students in your program.
Asking all of these questions and talking to as many people on campus as possible during your college visit will give you a greater understanding of life at the school. While brochures, websites, tours, and info sessions may get you started with the college’s basics, college visits are important because they give you an opportunity to examine the school’s culture, its community, and its academic, social, and extracurricular offerings, all of which will be significant to your college experience. Take advantage of your time on campus and ask as many questions as you can. When it comes time to decide, you’ll be glad you did!
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