It’s that time of the year for high school juniors and seniors to start preparing for their college visits. Many students use Thanksgiving and Christmas break to venture out to their college prospects and take campus tours. Because these times are so busy for students taking tours and checking out campuses, it is good to get ahead while you can, and now is the time.
The most important thing you can do before deciding to check out a college is to do your research. Don’t just go because your friends think it’s a great school or because your parents are pressuring you in a specific direction. Find the college that is right for you! Get online and make sure this is actually a school you would be interested in attending. What size campus is it and how many students attend? Do they offer the subject you want to major in? How far away is it from home? How much does it cost? Can you apply for financial aid? These are all questions you should be asking when looking into different colleges.
If you are unsure about what you want out of a school, you can check out a few different ones that offer completely different things. For example, check out a small private school and check out a large public university. Look into a school located in the city and compare it to a school located in a rural setting. Figure out what you want and then make your choice.
You won’t be able to visit every college on your list. A good way to explore colleges from home without ever stepping on campus is through University Visitors Network. This resource has campus visitor guide magazines, online guides, and mobile apps for over 45 top universities across the country. On University Visitors Network you can read about different departments at the school, take a virtual tour of campus on the app, and check out local businesses. UVN also creates college lifestyle blogs weekly (like the one you’re reading) which is a nice resource for high school students to peak into the life of a college student.
Once you have your list made of schools you want to visit in person, the first thing you need to do is schedule a tour. This is a good opportunity for you to take responsibility for yourself. It’s awesome your parents want to help, but you should be the one to take initiative and schedule your own tours. Usually you can do this right on the university website. While group tours are great, I suggest that you set up a personal tour if possible. On a personal tour you will be able to experience the things you are most interested in and you will be free to ask as many questions as you want.
You should also schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor. This is your chance to find out what it takes to be accepted into the school and pick the brain of a professional. Some universities really look at your test scores while others want to see all how many extracurricular activities you’re involved in. Take advantage of this opportunity before you start filling out the application and writing your essay.
Now that you know you will have the freedom to ask questions, it is time to prepare yourself. Have a list of questions written up to take with you on campus, and take notes when you get there! You should also make a list of the things you are interested in, like the health science building for example, and make sure you get your tour guide to show you where it is if you can’t find it on the campus map.
Being one step ahead on your campus visits is so important. If you show up to the university with zero knowledge about the college or what it has to offer, you can miss out on a lot. You won’t know what questions to ask and you won’t know about any of the cool things to see on campus.
After you take your tour and talk with a pro, you should plan on walking around the campus on your own. Now that you have more knowledge of the campus and university, you can look at it with a different perspective. Every University Visitors Network visitor guide magazine has a campus map in them, so it should be the first thing you pick up when you get to campus! You can usually find the visitor guides in the welcome center or student center on campus. Remember, being prepared is important. Don’t step foot on campus unless you are already one step ahead!