Visiting a Classroom

   One aspect of the college visit that many students overlook is classroom observation. Sitting in on a class session lets you experience the academic atmosphere first hand.

   Setting up an observation time
   When scheduling a campus visit and tour with the admissions office, express your interest in being part of a classroom setting. Be sure to ask if there is a particular professor students have found especially helpful in answering questions. Most colleges will allow a parent or a friend to join you on your classroom visit, so inform the admissions office of how many guests will be sitting in.

   Choose a subject that interests you
   Since college is the time when most students decide on a course of study, exploring different options helps to focus interest. If there is a particular area of study that sounds intriguing to you, schedule your classroom observation with a professor of that subject. If you are considering extracurricular activities like athletics or theater, meeting with a coach or director will also give you a sense of what is expected at the college level.

   Sitting in on the class
   Students discover that being a guest in a college class has assisted in the process of choosing a college or university. Experiencing the actual classroom setting gives applicants a general idea of the teaching styles, subject matter, and learning techniques on campus. Pay attention to the classroom atmosphere and the attitudes of the students toward the professor and toward each other. Feel free to ask questions or provide input.

   Don't be afraid to ASK
   College professors are one of your most useful and willing sources for acquiring information about their particular subject, career possibilities or the college in general. Wait until the classroom session has ended to talk with the instructor so that you will have plenty of time to raise questions. Keep in mind that there is NO such thing as a silly question! It is also a good idea to ask students in the class about their college experiences thus far. Upon leaving, be sure to thank the professor for letting you join the class.

   Putting it all together
   It may be a good idea to jot down a few notes regarding the classroom environment of each school. Ask yourself questions like: were the professor and the students accommodating? What was the overall atmosphere in the classroom? Is this a place where I would feel comfortable learning? Did the professor keep my attention? When it comes time to decide between two or three schools, having these records will make the decision process much easier

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