Visiting a College

   There's only so much you can learn about a college from view books, course catalogs, and websites. If you really want to learn about a college, the best way is to experience it first hand on a campus visit.

Which schools should you visit?

   Finding time to visit schools can be difficult, so it's important to pick the schools you visit carefully. Try to visit a large university, a small university, and a few small liberal arts colleges; you may find that your attitude about college size will change after you've explored a few different sized campuses. Also, be sure to visit all the schools that end up on your final list of options. Remember the college you choose is going to be your home for the next four years, so you'll definitely want to feel comfortable living there.

Setting up your visit

   You'll want to make sure you schedule your visit directly with the admissions office at the school you're interested in. Don't just show up and wander around the campus; all you'll learn from that is what the buildings look like. When you call the admissions office to arrange the visit, you'll want to set up a meeting with an Admissions Counselor, a campus tour with a student, and a meeting with a professor in your academic area. You may also want to sit in on a class and meet with representatives from music, athletics, or other extracurricular departments.

What to do on a visit

   Aside from the basic meetings you'll want to schedule, there are a few other things to keep in mind as you explore the campus. Make sure you prepare a list of questions to ask the Admissions Counselor, faculty members, and the student who gives you're the tour. You'll want to ask the students especially for their personal feelings about the campus and the college itself. Also, make sure you explore the neighborhood around the campus, and determine whether or not it's a place you'd be comfortable living.

Taking another look

   Once you've sent off your applications, it is a good idea to give your top choices another look. Set up another visit, and consider staying overnight in a dorm; the admissions office at the colleges you're applying to should be more than happy to arrange it for you. An overnight visit will really help you determine if you fit with the students on campus and learn how they feel about the academics, the campus, and the extracurricular opportunities.

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