With spring break on the horizon, most of the boys are looking forward to time away from campus, hopefully better weather, and a chance to relax after the long winter trimester. For juniors however, I recommend they use the upcoming spring break as a chance to visit college campuses. The college visit is one of the most important ways that students can learn firsthand what a college offers.
Campus visits are also very critical to the process of choosing which college or university will be the right fit. The college process is about fit more than anything, and visiting a college campus allows students to have more than just a one-sided understanding of what a college or university might offer.
When stepping foot on a campus for the first time, a student may be nervous and anxious, but he may also feel excitement and anticipation that he could one day be a part of this community. These feelings have been described as “just knowing” and is why the campus visit is one of the most important tools that a student can use when evaluating campuses and figuring out which school is the right one.
For many schools, a campus visit is their chance to show prospective students what sets them apart – so use this as an advantage. The campus visit can be used as a comparison tool. What does one school offer over the other? What sort of financial aid does each school offer? What are the admissions’ requirements at these schools? What sort of clubs and organizations does each school have? What sort of career development do they offer? What opportunities are there for internships and research? A campus visit can help to fill in the gaps.
I have had the opportunity to work on the other side of the desk and can recall the reactions of numerous students when they visited my college campus. For some, their eyes lit up and they could actually see themselves walking among the student body, having lunch in the quad, or sitting in classrooms. I have also seen the reverse happen. A student realizes that they don’t like the dorm rooms, the classrooms are too small or the technology is lacking. How would they have learned all this if they hadn’t visited the campus?
As an added bonus, some campus visits allow students to meet and speak with an admissions counselor. If given the opportunity to do this, a student can sometimes hear directly from someone who will be reviewing their application for admission.
Here is a list of questions to ask that include questions about admission, financial aid, academics and student-specific questions about dorms, campus offerings and of course food!
Visiting a college is about finding a place that your son will be calling his home for four years. He needs to be comfortable in the environment and comfortable with his decision. I encourage families to make use of spring break as an opportunity to visit as many colleges as possible. Most colleges have dedicated campus visit pages on their websites that allow you to easily register for a campus tour, information sessions, group visit days or, in some cases, an overnight stay.
If campus visits are not an option for your son during spring break, make use of virtual tours. Most campuses provide access to some form of a virtual tour on their website so students can browse and “look around.” Some include videos from current students talking about campus as well as from faculty members sharing their favorite parts of campus. Either way, make the most of the spring break time off!