You can learn a lot about a college by reading catalogs and brochures and by talking with those who have attended colleges. However, there are just some things you have to experience for yourself. When visiting a college, pay attention to how people treat you and how you feel as a guest of the college. If you do not feel comfortable as a guest, you probably will not feel comfortable as a student. Often college visits will tell you where you do not want to go. This is just as important to learn, as it will enable you to spend your time more effectively pursuing colleges that may be the right fit for you.
When visiting a college, you may also want to consider attending a class and, if the college permits, arrange a personal interview. If you schedule an interview, plan to take along a personal resume and/or an unofficial transcript to share with the interviewer. The ideal college visit would also include an overnight stay in a residence hall.
The following are some sample questions you may want to ask on your college visit:
When you talk to students, ask …
- How’s the food?
- Are campus jobs readily available?
- Do many students go home on weekends?
- How many hours a week do you spend studying?
- Is it possible to study in your residence hall room?
- What’s the library like as a place to study or do research?
- How easy is it to get the classes you want at registration?
- Are faculty members interested in students and accessible outside of class?
- What do you like the most about this college? The least?
- If you had to do it again, would you choose this college? Why?
When you attend a class, ask yourself …
- Are the students interested in the material?
- Are questions and discussions encouraged?
- Are the students prepared for class?
- Am I intellectually challenged by what is taking place in this class?
- Are the students learning new facts or new ways of thinking about the subject?
- Does the professor have a good rapport with the students?
- Would I feel comfortable as a student in this class?
As you tour the campus, ask yourself …
- Are residence hall rooms decent? Are the rooms quiet enough to study?
- Are common areas available in the residence halls? Are they comfortable?
- What’s the cafeteria/food commons like?
- Is laboratory/computer equipment up-to-date and plentiful?
- Are the grounds well kept?
- Is the setting/architecture appealing?
- What’s the surrounding town/city like?
- Would I feel comfortable here?
In your interview, you could ask …
- What is distinctive about this college?
- Does you college have academic programs that fit my interests?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of this college’s advising system?
- Will I have easy access to computers? Where are the computers located? Is there a fee for computer time?
- What kinds of extra-curricular activities are available campus? What are the facilities like?
- What types of campus jobs are available if I qualify for work-study?
- Are there new programs or facilities that will be available in the new few years?
- What are this college’s recent graduates doing now?
- Is it likely that I will be admitted?