Campus visits are a critical part of the college application process. Institutions may seem fabulous on full color brochures and fancy websites, but what is most important is whether a prospective student feels comfortable and fits in at a particular school. Finding a right-fit college is more than identifying a good academic fit but also relates to a good social fit which is equally as important.
The initial college visits prior to senior year or during the fall of senior year should be more informational in nature. The initial visit should confirm that a student is interested in applying to a particular school. Questions related to the following topics are appropriate:
- Academic programs
- Scholarships and scholars programs
- Admission requirements
- Student-faculty ratio
- Access to professors for academics and for socializing
- Research opportunities with professors
- The focus of the institution: research versus teaching
- Retention and placement statistics
- Resources available to students
- Housing options on and off campus and whether it is guaranteed for certain years
- Dining and meal plan options
- Current or upcoming building projects or expansion for the institution
- Extra-curricular activities
- Athletics (the division of the school, intramural sports and the other kind)
- Campus safety and transportation
- The community surrounding the college or university
- Study abroad opportunities and the ease of transferring credits back
After students have applied to schools that meet their criteria and have gained admission, they should arrange to participate in a campus program that will allow them to stay in the dorm with a host student, attend classes and attend social events of interest without their parents, preferably. This type of visit will help students to determine their first-choice school (often along with other factors such as financial aid award packages) as they are making their final decision about acceptances and preparing to send in the acceptance deposit. This visit is more about best fit. Please keep in mind that there are several good-fit schools for each student and they vary for each student. We do not promote focusing on and exerting all energy on one “perfect” school. With over 3,000 colleges and universities within the United States alone, there is a right-fit school for anyone who wants to pursue higher education.
While a visit to every prospective school may not be feasible, it is highly recommended that before students accept an offer of admission, they should visit the school.
There are virtual college visit programs to help with the initial information gathering: