March is the month many high schools schedule their spring breaks. Families with college-bound students may be embarking on campus visits, which can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the college search. You’ll see campus firsthand and immerse yourself in the school’s culture for a day. These tips from Amanda Dale, senior associate director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Georgia, will help you make the most of your time.
Before you visit:
- Schedule visits to multiple schools.
Even if you have one dream school, be sure to visit a few other colleges as well. If you’re interested in a large public university, plan to see a small private college so that you can compare the two. Enrolling in college is more than classes, it’s about being part of a community.
- Mind the calendar.
When scheduling your visit, check out the college and community calendars as well as local news for that day. You can catch a sporting event or theatrical performance on campus or attend a program in the community to help you get a feel for the town.
- Sign up for the campus tour.
While it’s the most obvious thing to do, the official campus tour is worth your while. Register with the Admissions Office or Visitors Center before your trip and come prepared with questions. On some campuses, such as the University of Georgia, tours are led by students who can give you the inside scoop.
- Dress appropriately.
Be sure to dress for the weather and for comfort. A portion of most campus tours will include a walking tour, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Plan to venture out on your own
After your official tour, you’ll have a chance to explore campus on your own. Before you arrive, plan your post-tour schedule. Check online for a campus map. Schedule time to meet with someone in the program you’re considering or sign up for a residence hall tour. Some schools may let you sit in on a class while you’re on campus, so be sure to ask.
While you’re on campus:
- Talk to students.
The best way to learn about a school is to talk to the students. Come equipped with questions for your student tour guides or any students you chat with while on campus.
- The student, not the parents, should take the lead.
While parents will have their own list of priorities, the student should drive the tour experience. Plan to visit places that matter to the student; mom and dad will have plenty of time to ask their questions along the way.
- Eat the food.
Have a meal while you’re on campus. Students spend a great deal of their time in the dining halls, eating and studying, so it’s worth the visit.
- Document your visit.
You’ll receive a lot of information, from majors to student organizations to statistics about the university, during your visit. Take notes, snap photos and grab any materials that are offered so you can digest all of it later. Be sure to get contact information of an admissions counselor or Visitor Center staff member in case you need to follow up with questions.
- Listen to your head but trust your heart.
All colleges have a list of great programs and organizations. Make a pros and cons list for each of the schools you’re considering but remember to listen to your heart. You’ll know which campus feels like home.