What college reps aren’t telling you.
Picking a college is a personal choice and a big decision. And despite what the campus tour guide tells you, not every college is going to be right for you. So, when you go on a college visit, don’t just visit the campus, act like you own it.
- Go beyond the website and read the student newspaper and university’s social networks.
- Ask if you can meet the president. Why not? As an interested buyer, she works for you today.
- Eat in the dining hall. How’s the vibe? How’s the food?
- Undecided on a major? No big deal. Find out what the school offers in terms of student life, extracurriculars, study-away trips, etc.
- Meet with a professor (or two).
Your campus tour guide is going to give you the highlights. Your goal should be to dig deeper. Be prepared to ask questions, lots of questions:
- How much writing and reading is expected each week?
- How does service learning fit within the curriculum?
- How available and willing are faculty to talking with students outside of class?
- How many students are doing research or getting internship experience?
- What are the opportunities to study abroad?
- What do you and your friends do for fun?
- How easy is it to get around the city?
And then talk with students and ask even more questions:
- What student services have they used or are available?
- Ask who their favorite professors are and why?
- Find out where students gather to work on projects and assignments together?
- Do they feel that the college is preparing them for their next step?
- How happy are they with their college choice?
Better universities place high expectations on their faculty and their students. These universities value academic effort, collaborative peer learning, and rich educational experiences. They encourage their teachers to become mentors. Top colleges know that students perform better when they are given academic rigor and the support to succeed. In turn, these universities are looking for students who acquire, analyze and question the information they receive. So, ask lots of questions on your campus visit. Own it.