Planning a Campus Visit (Part II)

Planning a Campus Visit (Part I)
April 17, 2012
Thoughts on the Campus Tour
June 7, 2012

Planning a Campus Visit (Part II)

Here are our next six tips for upcoming campus visits.  We encourage prospective students to ask questions, explore campus and the surrounding areas and, most importantly, enjoy their trip.

7.  SPEAK UP

Lara believes that “the number one tip is to ask questions.”  Of questions for admissions counselors, Lara adds, “Do your research beforehand.  If you do have the opportunity to ask a question, make sure it is one that requires nuance that you would not be able to find online.”  Also ask students – either your tour guides or those on campus – specific questions.  “Ask them where they are from, what they are pursuing at Penn academically, and what they are involved with on campus,” Valerie says, adding, “You can also get into the details of support, advising, food [and] community… do students tend to stay on campus and hang out or do students go home on the weekend?”

Open-ended inquiries, such as asking about current students’ positive, negative and even surprising experiences while on campus, gives prospective students’ unique insight into the undergraduate experience. Casual conversations will help you as you put together your application. “Ask why the tour guide chose [this school] because often times you would be surprised at the answer,” Lara says. “They went through the exact same process as you and you might find similarities.”

8.  WEAR WALKING SHOES

On-Campus Programs staff rattle off recommendations for independent exploration on campus and note the importance of going to classes, visiting a library, checking out nearby museums, people watching in the student union, and assessing safety on campus.  Lara reinforces the notion that exploration is always encouraged but also hopes to remind visitors to “be mindful that this is where students study and live.”  If you don’t know where to start, Liz adds, “Ask the admissions office for recommendations to get lunch or coffee.”

9.  VISIT THAT COFFEE SHOP ON THE CORNER

Exploration extends to the surrounding town or city; being a student of any university means being a citizen of the surrounding area. At Penn, we encourage visitors to walk through Penn Park into downtown Philadelphia where they can visit Rittenhouse Square or browse the shops on Walnut Street.  When exploring the surrounding area, note the ease of transportation between campus and destinations such as restaurants, supermarkets, department stores or airports.  As an example, Liz notes, “Our campus is a 16 minute ride by train to the airport.  [The train] leaves from your terminal and rides into the heart of the campus.”

10.  KEEP A PEN IN HAND

Taking notes and even photographs (please do not take photos during the information session or tour) will ultimately be helpful during the application process.  “Take notes of what you are feeling [and] what struck you,” Lara says, remarking, “Oftentimes your visit allows for fodder for your admissions essay in a year or two.”  Liz encourages you to record, “what made you feel at home.”

11.  RELAX AND ENJOY

Remember that visiting colleges can be exciting and fun.  You will be spending time with family, experiencing new landscapes, and putting the pieces together for a successful college career.  If the trip becomes stressful, Siobhan urges you “to pace yourself so that you have time to breathe, hydrate and grab a little nourishment along the way.”

12.  REMEMBER DEAN FURDA’S 5 I’S, 4C’S AND THE TOP 5 CHARACTERISTICS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN A COLLEGE

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