Recommended Campus Visit Stops
Harvard Admissions Officer/Founder, Road To College
With March and April breaks upon us, many juniors (and some
sophomores) will trek to college campuses around the country taking a closer
look at schools that might be good fits for them. Sitting in on an
information session and taking a campus tour is just not enough to determine
whether a particular college is the perfect match, let alone serve as the sole
reason your parents should spend upwards of $65,000 per year to send you to a
campus you see for three hours and then deem it as the sole college for you.
While one visit, even for a full day, will not provide all you need to know,
here are some ideas to think about as you prepare to head off on your college
visits this spring and summer to make those precious hours more valuable for
you and your parents.
Office – Information Session/Tour/Interview (if applicable)
– Go online and download campus maps, apps for the university and create a schedule
for what you hope to see during your visit.
that some schools require that you pre-register for the information session
and/or tours. Getting your name into a school’s enrollment management system is
positive in terms of receiving marketing materials and for displaying
you are a strong communicator, having an on-campus interview is a valuable tool
for connecting with an admissions representative who may have direct
involvement in your admissions case, and it also shows another level of
interest in the university. Many schools that offer interviews begin offering
interviews in the May-June time frame for rising seniors, but some schools will
interview juniors in March and April.
for a business card of the student or admissions officer conducting the
information session. Some schools are active in communicating with prospective
applicants, so having a card to send a thank you after the information session or
for later questions is great.
a Meal on Campus
Find out where the students eat
every day and whether the facilities and food quality meet expectations. Most
colleges will allow students to purchase a meal in a dining hall, and some
admissions offices might provide vouchers to eat a meal on campus for
free. Let’s face it food is central to
so many elements of the college experience, so it makes perfect sense to making
stopping for lunch at one of the dining halls a great idea.
are some things to consider when it comes to campus cuisine: Will you be eating
at Pizza shops every day or is the quality of the university meal plans
serviceable? Ask people about the food, but see for yourself and have a meal if
possible. Are the dining halls empty, or are they empty because students never
eat in the university dining halls because the food is not great? Is there a
campus meal plan that allows you to use those dollars to eat at local
the Academic Department that Interest You Most
Is the department cramped in a
basement office with little opportunity to congregate as a field, or are their
library resources, common study areas and conference rooms for those in the
major to interact?
at the resources available to the faculty - # of faculty, classes offered and
facilities to make observations of the university commitment to the department.
Is the administrator cordial and
helpful? Do students/faculty members stop to answer your questions?
Center – Recreation, Athletics/Fitness – Where do Students Socialize, Work-out,
are more and more focused on fitness. Ask if you can see the pool, check-out
the cardio facilities or see the yoga/spin studios if the schools have such
10-15 minutes and sit in the student center to see if it is a place that
attracts undergraduates during the day.
areas – do the academic buildings and other open areas of campus have common
space that encourages people to come together.
Centers, Classrooms, and Lecture Halls
colleges offer classes open to prospective students. You may need to register
to sit in on a class, or the admissions office may provide you with a list of
courses available for you to visit during the semester, but also walk through
the areas where you might be studying, researching and spending good chunks of
time during the academic day.
the Dorms and Explore Residential Life
Sometimes difficult to gain access
outside of a tour, but worth seeing the single, double and triple rooms that
colleges offer students. If a tour does not show you a room, you want to
connect with a friend before a visit to see if he/she might show you his/her
room to see undergraduate housing.
with Someone or Visit Student Club/Organizations You’d Like to Join
Visit the newspaper office, the
athletic department, theatre(s), student volunteer group, the student
activities center and organizations you’d most like to visit. Finding where the
student organizations are located and what they have to offer can give you a
better sense of community.
Campus Museums or Exhibits On-campus
You might want to look ahead to open
lectures, museums and special exhibits that appeal to you.
on your own!
Getting off the beaten path and
seeing some of the non-structured touring information can be interesting and
Get a sense of campus life from the
students directly. You need to hear what
students like and would improve about their experience.
Take notes, make observations, and think about trip before,
during and after the experience to make some well-informed opinions vs. simply
emotional decisions based on the traffic, size, location, admissions tour and
“feel” without considering the long-term and day to day experiences you’ll have
on the campus. Most of all have fun on these visits and begin picturing
yourself on each of these campuses. You’ll be there before you know it.