By Auston Nigg
Deciding on a college. Every high school student hoping to continue their education after graduation puts a huge amount of thought, time, and research into it.
Whether it’s your first year of high school and you’re getting a jump start on the process, or you’re a senior just cramming it in before you earn your diploma, it takes time to evaluate which colleges will be a great fit for you. There are so many factors to consider.
Thankfully, campus visits can answer a majority of these questions.
The full potential of a college visit
We’ve all heard the phrase “you just had to be there.” This perfectly applies to colleges. Yes you can look at the website, read reviews, even talk to alumni, but until you go to campus, you won’t know if the college is right for you.
The visit experience consists of several different elements. It’s much more than just an opportunity to tour a campus.
Here are 7 reasons to visit colleges you’re considering:
1. You need to Experience The university’s culture
A lot of great schools often offer more than just a campus tour during a college visit. They give you chances to experience student life, what a classroom setting at that school feels like, some even allow you to spend a night there in a dorm room. These are great opportunities for you to get a good understanding of what your day to day will be like if you attend this college.
Spending a night on campus also gives you a great opportunity to get away from the tour guide and ask students real questions and get honest answers. This will allow you to really know the school, making your decision process feel much easier.
2. You should See the residence halls (a.k.a where you’ll actually live)
Getting a chance to see a dorm room in person will give you an opportunity to imagine college life at that school. You want to enjoy the place you’re going to live during college.
Seeing what other students rooms look like can help you paint a picture of how you may want your dorm life to be. Make sure that your campus tours include time to see or even hang out in a dorm. It gives you the inside-scoop on student life.
3. You will Experience the contextual location
When choosing a college, you aren’t just choosing a university and a campus, you are more than likely choosing a new city to live in. Do you prefer rural or urban environments? (Not sure? Download our Location Comparison Guide.)
Do you want to be in the heart of a major city, or out in the suburbs? College visits will give you a glimpse of what your college experience will be in these types of environments. You will be at this school for four or so years, make sure that you aren’t only in love with the campus, but you enjoy the city you’ll be living in as well.
4. You can Try out extra-curricular activities
Studying and going to class is great, but your college experience will consist of much more than that. At your visit, find out what else there is to do on campus. Are there any clubs you are interested in? Do they have the athletics that you take part in (or cheer for)? Use your visit to sit in on the basketball team’s practice, or try singing with the choir.
5. You will Observe the Spiritual life
If you are looking into private christian schools, you more than likely have an interest in what their spiritual community includes. A college visit to some of these schools will give you an opportunity to experience a chapel service, to see faculty open a class with prayer, and more.
As a student, you’ll attend chapel and interact with faculty every day, so you want to be sure that they align with your beliefs and expectations. You can also ask about or experience student-led ministry groups during your visit.
6. You can Try out the classrooms
The educational experience of the college you choose should be a major factor in the decision you make. Do you prefer many students in large classrooms for lectures, or do you want a more intimate setting that allows you to interact with the professor?
Maybe you don’t yet know which you prefer. A campus tour can show you how both of these settings feel. Visiting university campuses helps you discover which learning styles you like most.
7. You get to taste-test the food
Yes, food is important. You will eat most of your meals in your college cafeteria, every day. If you had to eat at the same restaurant everyday, you probably wouldn’t pick one you’ve never been to before. So swing by the cafeteria while you’re visiting a college and take a look around at what they offer. Then, sit down and taste-test.
See if it all fits
Your college decision is a big one, and you’ll probably spend a significant amount of time weighing pros and cons. But until you actually drive up and set foot on campus you won’t know if you really like it.
Many students can testify to driving several hours to a campus, getting out of the car and instantly knowing they don’t want to attend. Other students will enter campus and fall in love with the community right away.
This gut feeling is something you can only experience if you take the time to visit. You would probably never buy a house without walking through it first, right? So take the time to visit the colleges you’re interested in and see if they are the right fit.