Are you one of the first people in your family to go to college? Are you not sure what to do or what to ask while visiting a college? It is never too soon to start visiting schools. Schools offer several visit options, find the right one for you. Call the Office of Admissions or visit the websites of the schools that interest you to learn their visit options. It is always best to schedule your visit verses just showing up at the school. Scheduling your visit allows the Admissions Office to plan a day that meets your needs.
Open houses are usually large visit days where any interested student can attend and learn about the school. The day may include a tour, speeches by faculty, staff and students, a chance to meet professors or students in your major, lunch on campus, and information about the admissions and financial aid process. Sometimes Open Houses are geared towards a particular group such as Juniors or Minority Students.
Individual Visit or Interview
An individual visit is a chance for you and your family to meet with the Office of Admission. Depending on how selective the school may be, this meeting could be a formal interview used to determine your “fit” with the college. Or, it may be a casual conversation between you, your family and the admissions counselor to help answer your questions about the school. Have a list of questions prepared ahead of time to help you determine if it is the right school for you.
An individual visit will usually include a tour (usually done in a group setting). Ask to see a residence hall room if you plan to live on campus.
If you are able to attend a class, try to attend a freshmen level lecture or an introductory class in your major. This will give you the best sense of what your first year may be like.
Meet a Professor or Coach
This may not always be possible at a large school, but a small school will probably offer you the chance to meet a professor or coach. Take advantage of this opportunity.
Professors—ask about class sizes, internship or research opportunities, and post graduation opportunities. Do students tend to go to graduate school or do companies come to campus to recruit the students. What companies? What types of major courses are offered? Are they offered each semester or are they offered on a rotating basis (for instance, only every other year or only Spring semester). Are classes taught by faculty or do they use Graduate Students to teach the classes?
Coaches—bring any information that will be useful to the coach including video of your performances, stats, and current coaches contact information. Some coaches will only meet with students they have already contacted, but other schools may be open to hearing from any potential recruit.
Scholarship Days or Audition Days
Based on your high school academic performance or a special talent, you may be invited to participate in a Scholarship or Audition Day. These function much like an Open House but also include a time for you to interview for scholarships or audition for a performance group (music, theater, or dance) or showcase your artwork. To participate in these events you often must meet certain application deadlines (often October or November but check with each school).
Admitted Student Day/Weekend or Overnight Visit
Many schools will have special programs to help admitted students decide whether or not to attend. These often include attending classes and staying overnight in a residence hall with a current student. This is a great chance to see what a school is really like. Share your intended major, activities and interests with the person planning your visit so that you are matched with the right host.
What to ask during your visit?
1) If you know what you would like to study or major in, make sure the school offers that major. Find out what types of classes are offered, the size of classes, and if they are taught by faculty or graduate students?
2) Ask about activities that interest you? Finding a club, sport, fraternity or sorority, or other activity can enhance your college education and make it a more enjoyable experience for you.
3) Ask about career placement after graduation (or graduate school admission rates if you plan to continue your education). What type of companies recruit at that school? How does the process to apply for internships or jobs work?
4) What academic resources are available to help you if struggle? Is there tutoring, writing workshops, study groups or review sessions?
5) What do students do for fun? Where do they live? What is the food like? What will a day in a life on that campus be like?
6) Are there part time jobs available on campus or in the community?
7) How do students get around? Can you bring a car or is there public transportation? Is parking difficult? Do students bring bikes?
8) How does the financial aid process work? What is the average amount of financial aid a student receives? Is there merit aid (based on special talents like academics, sports, music, etc) or is it need based?
9) What makes a student successful at that school? Are most students successful (graduate) or do many students drop out/transfer to other schools?
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