Tips to get the most out of your college visit


Olivia Griffin, Staff Reporter

College visits. The general idea of visiting a college is an intimidating reminder of the soon-to-happen future of higher education for many students, however, it can be confusing as to what is the best thing to do.

One highly recommended tip from numerous experts is to set aside time to explore the campus and town outside of the official tour. This gives one the opportunity to see parts of the school not included in the official tour (of course the tour guide will take the group by the state-of-the-art science lab, but will they show the less-than-average dining hall as well?). Get a feel for the area, and find out about the town (What is there to do? Is there a high crime rate? How easy is it to get around town?). Most tours include the opportunity to eat in the dining hall. There are many schools out there (that will remain nameless for now) that have not-so-appetizing meals for the students. Make sure that you actually enjoy eating the food at the school. If you can’t handle eating the food for one meal, then good luck trying to force-feed yourself mystery meat and canned vegetables for four or more years.

Many dorm rooms and student commons areas have bulletin boards featuring upcoming campus events and announcements. Check these out – they give you a good idea into the activities happening on campus, ranging from employment opportunities to general social gatherings to research and tutoring opportunities. Grab a copy of the school’s newspaper as well – this gives you a good idea of the day-to-day happenings on campus.

Try to visit during less-than-desirable weather. A college in someplace like Minnesota is going to be far nicer and appealing in the summer than it would be during the winter months. Though this can be challenging, try to visit the campus while school is in session versus the summer months, as it is hard to determine the vibe of the campus without the majority of the students actually being there.

Once it’s time for your actual college visit, remember this is an important opportunity to make a good impression on university officials, so dress appropriately (no short-shorts, low-cut tops, or baggy, super casual athletic clothes or sweatpants). Don’t overdress, though, and wear comfortable shoes (you will be doing a lot of walking). Take note of the weather forecast for the day of the tour, and dress accordingly.

See multiple residence halls as well. Campus tour guides will typically let prospective students see the nicest living areas, however, first-year students will typically not be living in the nicest accommodations on campus.

Ask the tour guides, faculty and current students plenty of questions. Some of the most valuable questions to ask include:

– Who teaches the classes, particularly the introductory courses (i.e., professors or teaching assistants)?

– How often do the students get to interact with professors outside of class?

– Are there study support groups or tutoring programs available? How helpful are they?

– Do students stay on campus for the weekend?

– What do students do on a typical weeknight and weekend on campus?

– What are the most popular student hangouts? (be sure to stop by these places)

Ultimately, you will have a good idea of whether or not you like a particular college after visiting it. Remember to have fun and enjoy your visit, and good luck in your search for your next step in education.