The Skinny on College Visits

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The Skinny on College Visits

Gracie Poehlman, Writer, Photographer

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Seniors get several excused absences for college visits. Many juniors take time to go to campuses as well, as early application has become the trend.

Many colleges send out mailings offering these tours of their campuses. They typically have a small blurb and a pretty picture, as well as a QR code or website URL promising more information.

The first place to start is by confirming that you’ll be there. There are a few colleges that are okay with students just showing up on these open house days, but others prefer that you go to the website and confirm that you’re going. Often, these colleges will have received your email from the College Search Service (a free college-finding feature included on AP tests) and sent an email containing the same information and a link to the sign-up page. If you haven’t gotten any mailings, you can visit the College and Career Center for college information.

Alright, you’ve signed up. Now, what should you look for on a college visit?

  • Landscaping and Grounds: Where are areas that people can picnic, or play games like Ultimate Frisbee? Are trees necessary for your personal happiness? Do attendees of this campus have to drive to class, or can they walk? How safe does the college space feel? What is the regional weather like?
  • Room and Board: If the dorms are part of the tour, are they comfortable, or are they creepy? How is the cafeteria?
  • Atmosphere: Are the people encountered on campus “your” people? What opportunities and groups are advertised? What is the campus truly proud of?

These are important questions, and the answers can influence your choice of a college. After all, you’ll be spending at least four years there, so if it doesn’t feel right on the tour, it’s probably not the college for you.

Other helpful tips include:

  • Pick up flyers and check out bulletin boards. They are an excellent way to get a glimpse of the campus’s pulse and the interests of the student population.
  • Check out the Student Union building. There are typically activities in these sprawling complexes, such as TV/videogame lounges, classic arcade games, pool tables, and bowling alleys.
  • Pack good shoes. Campuses are large, and cute sandals will be a pain. On the plus side, it’s an easy way to get your 10,000 steps in.

Most colleges offer their tours in the middle of October, so the time is now to visit the college of your dreams!

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