Visiting College Campuses
Does it feel right?
Visiting a college campus is an essential part of the college search process. Brochures and videos are put together by professional marketing firms. They are designed to be eye catching and appealing, and may not always be realistic. Although it may not be possible to visit every school, it is not a good idea to decide to attend a school without a visit.
- By being on campus, you get a real sense of the "atmosphere" of the school. Are students friendly? Do you get a laid back, relaxed feeling, or highly competitive feeling? Do the students all look the same or is the student body a diverse group?
- How easy is it to get from building to building? Do you walk up hill all the way? Do you have to take a shuttle from one end of campus to the other?
- Are the dorms clean? New? Old and falling apart? You will live there; is this a place you can live? Is housing guaranteed?
- How do the classrooms look? The library? The cafeteria?
- Talk with some students and ask for an assessment from someone who is a part of the college life already. Generally, students tend to be honest and realistic.
- Is the location what you thought it would be? Are you close to a town? Do you have access to what you would like, such as shopping, transportation, and "the real world"? Is it farther than you thought?
- Do they have activities/sports that interest you?
- Check with the security office for statistics on theft/assaults, etc.
- Talk to students and staff regarding the emphasis (or lack of emphasis) on drinking and how it will impact your studies (see appendix for more information).
- Meet with a faculty person/department chair that can talk about the area you are interested in studying. Ask questions such as: What are the graduation requirements? What specific courses are offered in your intended major?
- Meet with a financial aid representative. Be certain you understand the required paperwork, deadlines, and any obligations on your part for money given to you.
- Sometimes an overnight visit is very helpful, if it is possible. This will give you a taste of what it is like to live there.
- How many commuters take classes on campus? Is it a high percentage? If a college is listed as a commuter college, most students do not live on campus. This may be important if you plan on living at the college.
- What type of help (writing center, math lab, etc.) is available? When is it available? What is the additional cost of these services? You should also find out how to access the services should you need them.
- If you have a disability you should make an appointment with the Disability Services Coordinator (every school has a different name for this). That is the person who will be able to tell you what services are available for students who qualify and what documentation is required.