A Guide to College Visiting
By: Gabriella Nobou
As a junior, college visits are a crucial component of the college decision process, and getting a feel for the kind of school one wants to consider applying to. Campus visits make it easier to find a school that is the right fit, and will best suit your academic and social-emotional needs. On a college visit it is important to take into account the environment of the campus. This includes campus size, diversity, location, cost, campus resources available, weather conditions, and any other factors determinant in your decision. Academic factors that should be examined include the programs and extracurriculars one might want to partake in, as well as class sizes - as a smaller class size allows for more engagement with professors.
In my personal experience touring school, I’ve had to self-reflect regarding a lot of these factors. What class sizes would I be comfortable in? How far away am I comfortable being from home? What academic programs peak my interest? Questions like these have helped me narrow down my college search, and discover schools that I feel best suit my needs as a student through college visits. In the visits that I have been on, college visits not only consist of a campus tour, in which visitors are able to gage a feel for the campus and ask questions to their tour guide, but also info sessions in which students on a panel explain their personal experiences on campus, and give advice to visitors looking to apply which I found very useful. Virtual campus tours are another means to learn about a school and it’s offered programs from the comfort of your home, which I’ve found very convenient, even if less engaging than an in-person visit. In an in-person visit that I attended, one thing I thought considerate was the separate tour sessions pertaining to specific interests. For example, students interested in the arts go on the arts tour, and students interested in the STEM field on that tour.
At the first college I visited, I found that while the campus was visually appealing, relatively small enough to my liking, and not too far from home, it was not very diverse, which made me reconsider that school. However, I was intrigued to find that there was a school newspaper, which appealed to me as someone interested in journalism. Another school, I found, I was more influenced by due to its academic programs, as it dealt with topics that interest me personally, and that I had considered as possible majors prior to visiting. This school was largely media and communications focused with its own live broadcasted awards ceremony which I found very interesting, as well as its spectacular performing arts theater. This school also produced its own newscast and television channel along with a student run newspaper that prints every week - something I would want to be a part of should I attend that college.
Most schools I’ve toured have had on campus coffee shops, including an underground one that was a relaxing space for students to socialize and get work done. I was also shocked to find that a school I toured had an on campus hair salon. Other schools had numerous lounge spaces for students, and one even had a small house on campus in which students could get freshly baked cookies each day! Small perks like these, I felt, were significant additions to the comfort of the school environment, and overall made the campus a much more amusing place to spend time. On each campus tour it was also addressed what fun things there were to do off campus, including nice restaurants to visit, shops nearby, and more, which is another factor that I find would add to my experience at an academic institution if I choose to live on campus. Details like these and several others helped me determine if a particular school was one I really see myself staying at. All in all, college visits are a very advantageous way to learn more about a school, while learning more about yourself in terms of what interests you about certain academic environments, and the visitation process ultimately works to narrow down your college search in an interactive way.