Begin Your College Search This Weekend!

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If you are a high school junior or an undecided senior, an important part of selecting the right college is visiting the campus of the school that interests you. Lots of students make their visits during the summer months, but with most campuses on an off season college studentsschedule during June, July, and August, getting a real feel for the school isn’t possible when class isn’t in full session.

Instead, taking a long weekend off to visit a school this fall can reveal much about what you can expect if you were to attend that school. But, before you go you’ll need to map out a plan, one that will give you the most comprehensive visit possible in the briefest amount of time.

Call Ahead – Call the college and ask to be connected to an advisor in the field of study which interests you. Either this person or someone they recommend should be able to meet with you during your visit, giving you the opportunity to connect with someone who knows the school and can answer your questions. Schedule the meeting for a Monday or for a Friday because you’ll want to spend that weekend on campus.

Book Reservations – Some colleges have extra housing set aside for visitors, who pay a nominal fee to spend a night or two right on campus. Campus housing is much cheaper than staying at a hotel, while giving you a chance to rub shoulders with current students by visiting the student center, library, sitting in on classes, and more.

Attend Special Events – If your prospective college is big on collegiate sports, how will that fit into what you want to accomplish while attending school? Football games, soccer matches, concerts, and other special events will give you a feel for the recreational aspects of school. Of course, if you don’t like the party atmosphere you won’t find that out until you’re actually there, so go ahead and spend the weekend on campus and immerse yourself in what the school has to offer.

Sit In On Class – Once you meet with a college representative, you’ll learn which classes will allow you to sit in on and observe, a great way to sample what is being taught at the school. Use your time wisely and sit through several classes to gain an understanding of what you’ll be doing once enrolled.

Campus Housing – If you plan on living on campus, is the housing actually livable? Plenty of students find out the hard way in their freshmen year that housing conditions are appalling, against their personal standards (co-ed), or simply unappealing. Check out local housing options while visiting and compare living on campus with living nearby.

Check Around – Unless you’ll be on campus all of the time, the community where the school is located won’t make much of a difference to you. However, if you believe that you’ll be spending a lot of time off campus, you’ll want to get a good feel for the community where the school is located. Urban campuses offer a lot of cultural diversions, but will you feel safe there? Some state colleges are towns unto themselves, how will you feel living there on weekends when everything else shuts down?

Follow Up – Even after a two or three day visit you may have felt that you didn’t see everything, especially if your school has tens of thousands of students enrolled and scattered across a huge campus. Call back to the school to speak with the person you met to follow up with your questions. You’ll get a good feel for how welcoming the school is by the way that you’re treated – do their representatives treat you personally or can you expect to be just another number?

Finally, if you don’t like the school, don’t fret. Start researching the other schools on your list and plan to visit them as soon as possible. If you decide that the school is the one you want to enroll at, talk with your parents and expect to begin the application process right away. Most schools accept early action applicants in November and can give you their decision in December or January, months ahead of the usual Spring notification date.


Adv. — If you have already found the college you want to attend, get prepared to apply to that school in November. Otherwise do an online college search to find the schools of interest to you and print out a Summary Aid Map to help you plan your financial aid strategy.

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Categories: Education Tips