Visiting a college is one of the best ways for you and your child to learn more about potential schools. One of the goals of admissions counselors is to encourage a prospective child to come and experience the school. Admissions counselors know that college visits provide students with the opportunity to discover firsthand what it will be like to be a college student and to answer the all-important question of “Do I fit here?”
If your child is a junior or senior in high school, consider taking him to visit multiple college campuses. If you’re just starting your search, then simply planning a visit to one or two potential schools in your area may help your child develop the questions he’ll want to ask later.
Planning your visit is key. Spend some time thinking about what you and your child want to get out of the visit. Does your child want to sit it on a class? If so, in what subject? Does he want to talk to students in his potential major or a faculty member in a particular department? Do you want to meet with a financial aid counselor?
Depending on the size of the campus or the day that you’re visiting, these may or may not be options for you. Nevertheless, carefully consider what essential experiences you and your child want to have on campus.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of visiting a college campus:
1. Establish the objectives of your visits before stepping foot on campus. Identify your questions, and determine how you want them answered. Consider creating a checklist of your objectives or a spreadsheet with the characteristics you are looking for.
2. Decide what experiences are essential—a campus tour, an admissions overview of the application process, or meeting with professors.
3. Consider what type of visit best suits your needs—an overnight stay, an open house, or a personal visit.
4. Visit various campuses (city vs. suburban, large vs. small, local vs. non-local, etc.) to get a feel for the community and overall environment of the college.
5. Debrief after your visit. Did you enjoy your time on campus? Were you able to check off most of the objectives on your list? Is this a school you want to learn more about and would be excited to attend?
No matter what stage in the college selection process your child is in, scheduling an on-campus visit will help him narrow down his choices on his way to making a final decision.