During sophomore and junior year, many students begin to think about college: mainly, where they want to go. An easy way to decide where to attend is to visit colleges and see what they are really like.
The advantages of visiting colleges are many, while the disadvantages are few, if any.
Advantages include visiting classrooms, seeing the campus, taking part in an orientation or introductory program, talking with admission counselors and demonstrating interest. Disadvantages include expenses, both in money and time.
During the actual visit, students should make sure to take part in an orientation program, as it allows them to both ask questions and learn more about the school. Walking around and seeing the campus can also provide a strong incentive toward attending the college, and could possibly make the difference between applying and not.
Visiting classrooms gives students the ability to understand curriculum, as well as experience campus life from a college student’s perspective– an entirely different experience from AP classes in high school. Paying a visit to classes also allows prospective college students to verify information sent to them by schools, as well as provides a visual to go with statistics.
While taking the PSAT or other tests during sophomore and junior year, many students check boxes that enable colleges to send them junk mail, complained about in an article of mine. Many of these emails are designed to show the college in the best possible light, and gloss over any “bad” aspects of the school.
While deciding what college to attend, students factor in many aspects, including the beauty of the campus. Although how good a campus looks doesn’t impact students all that much, it is one of the prime stats flaunted by colleges, especially on their brochures.
A common element of most college visits is a walking tour that typically involves some kind of orientation or introduction to the school. Information given during this session includes financial aid, average test scores and majors or courses of study offered at the university.
While a lot of information regarding these aspects is available online, hearing it first hand from someone who works at the university verifies it’s truthfulness. Orientations also allow students to ask admission counselors questions, in order to learn how to better apply to the school.
Some topics to ask counselors about include financial aid opportunities and majors/concentrations offered at the school. While financial aid is typically the same at most schools, some colleges have different grants and programs, such as the Davidson Grant.
While some courses of study are offered at almost every school, such as biology, some colleges have different or unique programs, including building a custom major. Asking admissions counselors about these different offerings can help students decide what they want to study in college.
When it comes to applications, demonstrated interest is another aspect that helps applicants have a better chance at being accepted. Demonstrated interest is when students show that they want to apply and are interested in attending the school, similar to applying to a school Early Decision.
Some colleges like students to express interest, while others do not take visits and tours into account when reviewing applications. Demonstrated interest, as well as visits in general, may be the deciding factor, either for you or for the college.
On the other hand, college visits do have their disadvantages, albeit very few. These include being costly, especially with out-of-state visits, and time-consuming, as the average college tour may take up to a week.
It is for these reasons that many college tours take place during Spring Break, as students have quite a lot of time off.
So, the question of whether college visits are actually an admissions advantage can only be answered by your college of choice. They offer many advantages and few disadvantages, but it’s up to your school whether they will accept it or not.