Are you getting ready to visit colleges in person or plan on “visiting” them virtually? Wondering how you approach and prepare for this? As with so many things in life, planning is the key to success. Visiting a college, be it virtually or in person, is no different. Here are some tips to get the most from your visits.
What to Do BEFORE Your Actual Visit
Let’s begin with what you should do before you get in the car and begin your drive to that college that has made it onto your list of potential schools to which you may want to apply. Your anticipation is palpable, the excitement mounting, but have you done your due diligence at home, in front of your computer, to fully understand this institution prior to even deciding to spend the time to visit? You should do so.
Below is a list of varying ways you can research schools to see if they make the initial cut to even warrant a visit. Remember, the college search is a journey. Choosing a school is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life to date and this is where you will decide to make your home away from home for at least 4 years. Do your homework. It’s never more important that you do so.
Your Pre College Visit Planner To-Do List
1. Visit the college’s website and assess the programs offered and curriculums for a best academic match.
Even if you don’t know what you want to major in (and in reality more than 80% of students don’t) it will provide you with a view of what the school offers and if it appeals to you
2. Take virtual tours.
Go to YOUVISIT.com, CAMPUSTOURS.com, CAMPUSREEL.org, and type in your search bar “YouTube “X” College Campus Tour”. Some of these won’t be the most produced or prettiest videos, but they tell the real story. Note: some schools now have virtual tours that you sign up for on their website. This can show demonstrated interest and provide a perspective that the other virtual tours do not. How does the school present themselves? What are they highlighting?
3. Sign up for virtual information sessions.
Check to see if the schools in which you are interested offer virtual information sessions – if so, attend them. Again, it provides insight to what the college wants to tell you about the school and many times they will also have information sessions on specific programs. You may also be able to ask questions, so be prepared and do your research prior to the session to understand what it is you want to get out of this information session.
4. Read the Fiske summary.
You can purchase the book or, if you have access to a program that includes this, read it. It is filled with valuable information. Fiske is an independent company that provides varying perspectives on approximately 400 colleges. How does the school rate socially and academically? What are their strongest programs? Who are their crossover schools? There is a 10 minute review on the school, it’s personality, social life, vibe, academics, professors and more. Note that not all schools have a Fiske summary.
5. Research school overviews.
Go to colleges.niche.com and unigo.com for an overview providing different perspectives from current students on varying topics such as academics, dorms, food, social life, outside environment, and more. Caution: don’t take any one comment for fact! Look for trends.
6. Follow social media and sign up for emails.
Subscribe to each college’s social media platforms and for the admissions contact list – and open those emails and follow the links, which is one way of indicating demonstrated interest and for you to view what the college is communicating to prospective and current students.
Make Your Planning Even Easier with Our College Visit Checklist
So now that you have decided which schools you want to visit, in person. As you begin to head on your journey to get there, you wonder what do I look for when I am on campus? Well, Signature College Counseling has come to the rescue! We have an online College Visit Checklist form, which is phone and tablet ready, that covers all aspects of your visit (see link below to access it). I always tell my students and families that you have to look deeper than the well manicured landscaping and architecturally beautiful buildings to understand if this is the school for you.
Our Campus Visit Checklist covers all of the topics listed below AND also provides a space at the end for you to enter your comments and thoughts. This submitted form can be sent to 2 emails of your choosing. When you receive it file it in a folder in your email titled “Campus Visits”. In addition, take photos and file those in an album on your phone with the title of the school name. This way you can always go back and revisit your thoughts and pictures.
There are no required fields, other than your email, but what these questions do is allow you to become aware of all the varying touch points when on campus. NOTE: make sure you let the person who is presenting at your information session or tour guide know that you are not texting but taking notes on your phone.
What Our College Visit Checklist form covers:
• Preparing and planning for your visit (which we covered above)
• School facilities
• Current environment
• Outside environment
• Does this college fit me? Note: if you complete nothing else, answer this question!
Click here for Signature College Counseling’s Planning and Visit Checklist
I wish you good luck on your college search journey to find the right set of colleges for you and hope this planner helps you prepare for and track each campus visit.
Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.