Planning a good college visit takes some time and thought. The visit is an opportunity for you to gather information that will help you in making an extraordinarily important decision: which college will you attend? You need to carefully consider your goals. What questions do you want answered? What facilities will mean the most to you? What sorts of people do you really want to meet?
A previous post gave you some general considerations as you plan your campus visit. What follows is a short list of practical tips to help you in your planning.
- Check the website to know what times tour and information sessions begin. These are usually scheduled back-to-back, but it makes little difference which one you do first. If requested, sign up for information session and tour in advance.
- Make an appointment for an interview with an admissions officer. All but a few colleges will encourage personal interviews, so take advantage of the opportunity. Check out this list of questions to ask an admissions counselor.
- Consider making an appointment to visit with a professor in a department in which you have a particular strength or interest. Often the admissions office will help facilitate these appointments for you. But it can be much better if you contact the professor yourself and request a brief appointment—this shows initiative and interest (two things that admissions counselors like to see).
- Athletes should also plan to meet with the coach or coaches. You should contact the coach directly for an appointment. Check out our list of questions to ask college athletic coaches.
- Performing arts students should also plan for an interview or audition. The admissions office may facilitate these meetings, or you may have to call the departments directly.
- If your visit takes place on a weekday, try to sit in on a class. The admissions office may be able to help you make these arrangements, so ask well in advance.
- Plan to take advantage of overnight stay options for students. These are great ways for the applicant to meet a variety of students and to get a ground-level view of the campus from a student’s perspective. You are considering spending four years on this campus, so you may as well spend a night before you apply so that you can imagine what the experience may be like.
- Print out and take with you several copies of your résumé, put them in a folder, and carry them with you during your visit.
- Plan to dress neatly. No need for the cocktail dress or the suit and tie. But don’t look slovenly, either: decent slacks, decent shirt or blouse, decent shoes. Your appearance is important, especially if you have arranged interviews or meetings with coaches or professors.
Our next installment will provide some guidance on how to get the most out of the official admissions tour and the general information session.
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