When thinking about visiting colleges, you may be wondering, “Where do I even start?” “How many places should I visit?” or “When should I visit or re-visit?” Here’s the good news: These are very common questions during this part of the process. For seniors, you may have already visited several campuses or are planning to do some visits this fall before completing your applications. For juniors, perhaps this process is just starting for you. Regardless of where you are at in this timeline, we’ve created both a checklist and a “check-in” list with suggestions on how to make the most of your college visit.
1.Before your visit(s), do a little research on the institution of interest.
There is a lot to know about every school, so don’t feel you need to memorize every single fact. However, it can be beneficial to do some research beforehand so that you go into a visit knowing the questions you want to ask. Maybe your questions are about an academic program, campus resource or an aspect of community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that pertain to your interests! This can help you to get the most out of your opportunities to visit a campus in person.
2. Make a list of your wants, your needs, and your non-negotiables.
When it comes time to make decisions, this list can come in handy! You will be able to weigh the pros and cons of each institution and have a good grasp on which school could best serve and foster your passions, your wants, and your needs.
3. On the plane ride, train ride, or car ride there, make a list of the things you would like to accomplish during your visit.
These may be questions you would like to have answered, places to eat around the area, or things to do in town. We have all had those moments where we leave a place with regret for what we should have done, what we should have said, or what we should have taken advantage of. This list should help to make your visit to feel more intentional and purposeful.
4. Take someone along with you, if you can.
This person can act as a sounding board for things that you may be thinking or feeling during your visit. This person can add some perspective, some support, and hopefully some fun as well.
Along with this checklist comes a check-in list that helps you not only take in information, but also synthesize it in a way that is true to you.
1.What do I notice about the environment around me? (Positive, negative, or neutral observations).
(e.g. “There are a lot of people here!” or “I like this small classroom size.”)
2. How do I feel in this space?
Along with your ability to visually analyze the environment, you should also be able to visualize yourself and your potential success in the space.
3. Can you picture yourself not just surviving, but thriving, here?
Focusing on your overall wellbeing in the college search process can help ensure that college will be a place where you thrive, even through challenging circumstances.
4. What did you learn about yourself on this visit?
(e.g. “I felt a little uncomfortable in such a small classroom. I think I would thrive better in a bigger environment with more perspectives” or “The commute to class is so short. This helps me, because I love being able to sleep in a little longer!”)
Tip: With these lists, you can feel equipped to visit any college—including those close to home— and gain useful information about yourself and where you fit best. Use this check-in list to frame your college-search process as you decide which schools to learn more about, including those schools you visit in person and those you explore virtually or through other channels.