07 Apr 5 Tips to Make the Most of your College Visits
There is more to visiting a college campus than the official tour. Yes, you should definitely participate in that also, but consider doing that in addition to other things that will help you get a real feel of what it might be like to live and work in that college community. Take advantage of the opportunities the college offers prospective students—and then, explore further.
Some universities require you to have a “sponsor” to stay with if you spend the night on campus, but others encourage it and will even include it in the orientation as an option. Take them up on it if you can. Eat in a couple of different dining halls, sleep in a resident’s hall and sit in on a class or two. These types of experiences will go a long way to helping you get a better feel for what attending school there is really like.
Visit the nearby town
Many college campuses are surrounded by towns that caters to the college crowd. No doubt you will spend a good amount of time there if you decide to attend that university, so spend some time touring the town too. How friendly are the people? What drug and convenience stores are around? What are the names of the best restaurants or other hang outs for college kids? Is there a movie theater or a bowling alley nearby? Do the “townies” act like they see the students as a part of the community? Every college town has its own atmosphere; feeling comfortable there will be important to feeling like you fit into the college area as a whole.
Talk to current students
This, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to find out about the “real” college environment. People in general love to talk about their experiences, so it is usually easy to stop random students and ask them questions. Find out where they like to go to have fun. Learn about their favorite dining halls and study places. Ask if they would choose this university again, if they had to do it over. Why? Come up with creative questions that will give you the answers to the most important aspects of living on your own for the first time.
Learn the layout of the campus
This includes the library, the student clinic, the dining halls and if you know what major you will declare, the buildings where a majority of your classes will be held. Also, look at which resident halls would be most convenient for you. You may want to choose your dorm based on how convenient it is to dining and classes instead of picking the one with the most updated rooms. It may not mean much to you now, but when you are tired from studying, but need to eat or locate the right book for an essay, location and convenience will be of great import!
Explore on your own
There are a lot of places on every campus that your typical college tour won’t show you, but may be of great interest. Don’t be afraid to take a walking tour of your own to see the “real” campus…the parts that aren’t in the glossy brochures. Some of the coolest places to study or hangout are not part of the official tour, but you will definitely want to know about them sooner, rather than later. If you like to study in cafes, go to each of the nearby local coffee shops to try the coffee or your favorite beverage. Get the feel for the clientele. See how comfy their chairs are. These things will be of much more practical use than you may expect, and sooner than you think! Come up with other ideas of your particular creature comforts. Believe it or not, these things are a vital part of being happy in a community while being away from home.
These suggestions are all about learning the school inside-out—learning about the school not from the employees or the college website, but really exploring and learning about the places, events and people that are important to you. Remember that the college experience is much more than academics, so go beyond the campus tours to get a better understanding of if that college is the place you could consider your home away from home.