Why a campus visit is a must when choosing a college
Picking out the best college for you can often be overwhelming. With everyone offering some advice, you might end up confused and end up in a place that is not meant for you. Before you entrust years of your life and thousands of dollars to a particular college, you need to be sure that you’re choosing a place that matches your personality and interests. This may be difficult to figure out just by looking at brochures or a website, but this is where a campus visit can provide valuable insights.
Here are some things that you can keep in mind when visiting a campus:
While an official campus tour might show you the college’s selling points, be sure to poke around on your own. The tours will show you what the authorities want you to see, but checking out the place on your own will provide valuable insights about the day to day workings of the institution.
Notice the Notice Boards
When you visit the student center, take a few minutes to read the bulletin boards. They provide a quick and simple way to see what events are going on and what kind of clubs and activities they have on campus.
You can get a good feel for student life by having a meal or snack in the dining hall. Sit and eat with current students if you can, but even if you’re with your parents, you can watch the bustling activity around you. Observe the expressions of the students. Do they seem happy or stressed? Also, is the food quality good and are the options adequate and healthy? These things, though trivial, do matter in the long run as they might affect your health.
Visit a Class and Talk to Professors
If you know what you want to study or what programs you would like to take, a class visit really helps. Take the opportunity to watch other students and see how engaged they are in classroom discussion. Stay back after class for a few minutes and chat with the students to get their views on their professors. But remember to call in advance to plan a classroom visit as most colleges don’t allow visitors to drop in on class unexpected.
While choosing a college, the most important thing to note is how the professor teaches. When you attend a professor’s lecture, rather than relying on your memory, make a checklist of things you liked and disliked. The checklist should include simple things for example, does the professor arrive on time, and are students allowed to ask questions or is the professor available after the lecture is over for informal discussions with students who have more questions?
Finally, Don’t Forget to Take Pictures and Notes
If you’re comparing several colleges, it’s important to document your visits. Initially, the details may seem distinct, but by the third or fourth college visit, similar characteristics will start to blur in your mind. Record what you felt and what you experienced rather than facts and figures. After all, you will be spending the most important years of your life in college.
Shelly Verma is an avid small business writer touching on topics from higher education, career improvement, self-help, health, and personal finance.
Image courtesy of flickr, by Concordia University