Four years of college can cost as much as a new home. You have to walk through the rooms, inspect the plumbing, stroll around the neighborhood, figure out distances to shopping and schools and more. Pictures only tell only part of the story.
That’s why it’s important that you visit every school of serious interest. Experts recommend that these visits take place late junior year or early senior year (tenth grade is too early).
1. Schedule a personal visit
Most colleges hold admissions events a few times a year, which give general information about admissions and financial aid and include a tour. These are fine, but a personal visit is preferable. It will give you the chance to ask the specific questions you need to make a truly personal evaluation.
2. Choose the right time
Schedule the visit for when classes are in session, so students and faculty will be on campus. (Most high schools consider a college visit an excused absence.)
Call or e-mail the admissions office two weeks ahead. Include special requests such as:
- Sitting in on a class in a possible major
- Speaking to a coach and visiting athletic facilities
- Eating a meal
- Staying overnight at a residence hall
- Meeting privately with a financial aid counselor and an admissions counselor. (Be sure to have questions and information ready in advance.)
4. Take pictures to refresh memories later
5. Stay in touch
Jot down faculty and staff e-mail addresses and write thank-you notes soon after the visit. This is not only polite, but will also show that you are serious about the college.
Note: In most cases, an adult family member should accompany their child. Be sure that you can do most of the planning and legwork.