Visiting a school is really a 2-way street. It does send a message to a college that you are interested. It also gives you a chance to visualize being a student on that campus. Time and again I am surprised by the visceral responses students have to different school environments. Too big? Too remote? Not urban enough? Not enough places to eat late at night? I have had students make their final decision about a school based on what they ate during their visit!
Here is a brief checklist of things to consider:
- Do you like the physical environment? How big is the campus? How many students?
- Do you like the academic environment?
- Do you like the social environment?
- Are there financial aid considerations that you should keep in mind when looking out of state or at private school options?
- What type of access will I have to studio, performance or production space?
- How many students drop out or transfer after their freshman year?
- When I visit can I meet someone in a particular department? Is there a current student I can talk to?
Here is how you can be prepared when you tour:
- Do your research. Identify courses and professors who are of interest to you.
- Plan your questions. Do not ask something you could easily find on their website. Do ask about research opportunities, internships and career counseling.
- Make an appointment with a faculty member. Do not just “drop by.” Set up an appointment with a faculty member you have identified.
- If Admissions offers “optional” interviews, you should try to schedule an appointment when you are on campus. This will provide an opportunity for you to show your interest in the campus by discussing what you have researched.
- If you do not have a scheduled appointment with a faculty member in your department, make sure to either schedule a tour of that specific department or if those are not offered, stop by and introduce yourself to someone in the office.
- Inquire as to whether you are able to sit in on a class. Some schools are happy to let you do so.
- Pick up a copy of the student newspaper while you’re on campus. It generally offers an uncensored take on the issues facing students and the college as a whole.
- Walk around campus and talk to students. Ask them about their experience with registering for classes, the dorms, student support services and anything else they want to talk to you about. Most students who see someone touring the campus on their own are happy to stop and talk about their life on campus.
Be creative in how you schedule tours to make the most of your time and cut down on travel expenses. Do not just show up on campus. Registering for an official campus tour is important and will put you in their “system.” Don’t miss out on this important opportunity to discover if a particular school and program has what you are looking for!