Before you visit a prospective college you need to do some research to make the most of your time there. Review any publications you received and check out their web site to review basic information about academic programs, school size, special programs, tuition and fees, housing options, and admission requirements. Write down any questions that come to mind during your research. The visit is the time to ask the questions the publications don’t answer. Some typical questions are listed at the bottom of this page.
It is best to visit a campus on a weekday when classes are in session. However, most colleges also maintain Saturday morning office hours and tours. Some schools encourage longer visits and provide housing at a minimal cost. Generally, it is advisable to contact the admission office in advance to make arrangements. Be sure to ask about special visitation days for any departments in which you have special interest.
You can learn much about the college in a short time by talking to an admission counselor, visiting with faculty, talking with current students, talking with financial aid officers, and touring the campus.
Remember that the time of the school year when you visit the campus may influence your impression. The atmosphere on a special occasion, such as a homecoming football game, will differ from that during the week of final exams or commencement. Many families use their vacation periods for making visits to campuses. At most colleges, tours and interviews are possible on weekdays during the summer. The composition of the summer student body, however, usually is not the same as it is during the regular school year.
Do your homework! Use your time on campus to get the “nitty-gritty.” You shouldn’t need to ask the college rep for information that is readily available before your visit. (Answers to questions about academic programs, school size, special programs, tuition & fees, room & board, and admission requirements easily can be found in several common sources such as this web site, college catalogs, other web sites, etc.) Here are some questions to help you get the feel of a campus:
1. Do most of your students graduate in 4 years (or in 2 years, for 2-yr programs)? What is your graduation rate?
2. Do full-time faculty members teach most classes?
3. What is your average freshman class size? Largest class? Smallest class?
4. How is multicultural diversity addressed on this campus?
5. Do most of your students live in dorms, live nearby in apartments, or commute from home?
6. How many of your students receive financial aid? What would be a typical financial aid package for a freshman?
7. What kind of additional costs might there be (books, transportation, health insurance, health care, laundry, etc.)?
8. What kinds of jobs are available on-campus and off-campus?
9. What types of additional free services are provided to students by your school (e.g. tutoring, personal counseling, career guidance, study skills workshops, job placement, remedial reading, math assistance)?
10. What kind of sports and entertainment activities are available on and off campus? How important is “Greek” life to social activities?