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March is here and spring is officially upon us! For Seniors, many of you are still waiting to hear from colleges. Others of you are comparing financial aid offers, considering pros and cons of each school and ultimately trying to decide where you’ll spend the next four years of your life. Juniors are focusing your efforts toward the college list and narrowing down the schools that you are interested in submitting applications to this fall. Sophomores, most of you are researching schools and exploring possible areas of study that might interest you. There's no doubt that ALL of you are juggling classroom demands that the middle of the semester inevitably delivers. Regardless of what your focus is this spring, March (along with the rest of the spring months) is a great time to visit colleges. And no, not all college visits are equal. It’s important that you put in the time and effort and ensure the most quality visit possible.
Here are few tips to help you make the most of your college visits over the next few months:
Plan Ahead. This is one step that so many students and families overlook, and it is a common mistake that's very easy to make. However, as you prepare for your college visit, be sure to do your own research ahead of time. Don't depend on your meeting with an admissions rep to be your only source of information. Come with a list of questions and don't be afraid to ask them! By asking questions, your time on campus will prove to be much more productive.
Bring Your Parents Along. You will not regret having a second (or third) set of ears along for your visit. Having parents come along on your school visits will only benefit you in the long run. It’s nice to share your thoughts at the end of the day, compare impressions and have someone who is taking very close notes. Most parents are evaluating colleges a bit differently than their child … and this is a good thing! Your parents are a valuable part of this process. Embrace it.
Meet With a Current Student. There is no better way to get to know a college than by talking to current students. Admission reps can give you valuable information about each university, but talking with an actual student can give you the true "inside scoop" for a college’s culture. Ask the admissions office to connect you with a current student; they'll usually be more than willing to do this for you.
Take a Campus Tour. Never, never, never skip out on the campus tour! Even if you've been on the campus before, you'll benefit from taking a tour and you'll almost always learn something new about the school. A campus tour can give you a brand new perspective for what a college offers and will almost always be time well-spent.
Attend a Class. You go to college to learn and you learn by attending class (it’s true). Why not sit in on a class to get a feel for the academic culture? Experiencing how students and professors interact in a classroom setting can be very valuable as you consider what college to attend.
Don’t Rush Your Visit. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to thoroughly visit a campus. It's a good rule of thumb to allow more time, than not, in case unexpected opportunities present themselves (like the chance to meet with a current student). A good and thorough visit will always be more beneficial than a rushed visit. This ties into the first tip; plan ahead and allow yourself enough time on each campus to genuinely enjoy your visit.
For those of you looking for additional campus visit resources, consider checking out Go See Campus’ website. Go See Campus is one of my favorite college trip planning sites. They offer many helpful tools to assist families as they plan college visits.
Best of luck to you as you visit schools this spring!
Director, CLC College Prep Services