Once you begin your college search, you should plan on visiting several colleges in your junior and senior year. While the brochures may give you an idea about the colleges you are interested in, and speaking with a representative from a specific college can answer some questions, you wont get the overall feel of a college unless you physically visit it.
Its a good idea to visit during the school year, so you can see college students in their environment. Bring a notepad so you can jot down any questions as well as anything that stood out to you during your visit. Here are some things you should look for during a visit to a college.
Your college visit should include an official tour of the campus. You can arrange a tour ahead of time, or you can attend an open house where tours are held all day. Taking a tour will allow you to see all of the campus facilities and understand the programs offered at the college better. Plus, you will be able to ask any underlying questions you may have face-to-face with admissions representatives or college staff.
If your tour does not include a visit to a typical classroom inside an academic building, make it a point to ask to view one. Seeing a classroom will allow you to get a feel for the size of the classes, as well as the style of teaching (lecture, hands-on, open discussion).
Take note of the student body when you are perusing through the campus. Are students interacting with each other and engaged in campus life, or is everyone studying with their noses in books? Examine the demographics of the college (age, race, gender). If youre up to it, ask a random college student what they like and dont like about the college to get a real and honest answer straight from the source.
When you visit a college campus, make time to view the town or city that surrounds the school. Whats the setting like? Are there shopping and entertainment activities close by? Is the atmosphere artsy or more residential? As with other factors about the college, make note of what you see to compare it later on.
Visiting a college is the single best way to see first-hand what is unique about the school. Be prepared to ask questions along the way, and make note of what you preferred and what you didnt like about the college. The more colleges you visit the better chance youll have of finding what youre looking for.