Proper Preparation for College Visits: What to Expect
Given that you will spend four years there—almost 2% of your life! It’s vital to visit the campuses of the colleges you’re interested in. One step on a campus can teach you more about what your time would be like there than a website could. On top of that, college visits are exciting and will hype you up for the years to come. Here we will discuss the basics of a campus visit, as well as some tips for your preparation for college visits.
The basic structure
Campus visits will vary at every college. However, there is a typical structure, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today. Some colleges do offer private, one-on-one tours. Most likely though, when you arrive you’ll be seated in a room with many other prospective applicants and their families. Your visit will begin here, with an opening presentation. This presentation is a good time to get the overall sense of the school in terms of facts and figures. Information like the kinds of majors they offer, study abroad programs, class sizes, dorm configurations, and more. It’s helpful to have a pen and paper handy so you can jot some of these facts down. Many colleges will also provide this information to you as a take-home pamphlet or in a goody bag of some kind.
After this presentation, which typically lasts between 30 and 40 minutes, you will be split into groups and assigned a group leader, often called a campus ambassador. The ambassador will be a current student who will walk you on a guided tour around the campus. Be sure to pay attention to the ambassador. If you’re visiting a campus located in a crowded city, be sure to follow your group and to avoid getting lost or slowing others down. The ambassador will stop at pre-designated stops around campus and will welcome your questions during the tour.
It’s important to listen to your ambassador, as some will request that you save questions for the end. And certainly do ask questions—don’t be shy! If you’re nervous about thinking something up on the spot, in your preparation for college visits, jot down some questions in a notebook and carry it around during your visit. It’s a good idea to ask the ambassador what their daily life is like, as if you choose to go to that school, your life will look a lot like theirs in a few years.
Dorms and dining halls
One of the most anticipated stops on a campus tour is, of course, the dorms. Many colleges will allow you to see a dorm room, either empty or occupied, but not all. Visiting a campus during a bigger visiting event, like admitted-students day, will increase your chances of seeing a dorm. Once you’re in the dorm room, you’ll likely only have a minute or two, so be sure to take it all in. Think about the light, the space, the roommate configurations. Also, be prepared to see a messy room—many schools tour prospective students through rooms that are actively in use.
When doing preparation for college visits, do research a given campus’s dining hall map. You will also likely be shown at least one dining hall. Definitely look around and take note of what you see. Does the cafeteria offer options for your diet? Maybe you’re vegan, or gluten-intolerant—would that college’s dining system be able to cater to you? Be sure to ask the ambassador, as they will have a sense of all the food halls spread across campus.
Use this time wisely
While you can find a ton of info about a college campus online, it’s impossible to get a virtual sense of how it would feel to live there, how far apart or close together the buildings are, how noisy it is, etc. This is the biggest advantage of visiting a campus. It allows you, even if for just a few hours, to imagine that you’re a student living on that campus. Considering how far apart your dorm, classes, and dining hall are may sound trivial now. But when it’s finals week and you’re cooped up in the library and desperately need to eat, you might not want to walk a mile for food, and then another mile to your dorm room.
Still stuck? Feel free to reach out to Gooroo to schedule a time to talk to one of our tutors. If you are interested in a specific school, we’ll match you with a tutor who graduated from there to answer your questions.
At the end of the day, the most important preparation for college visits is to relax and be yourself. As you’re getting to know the college, the college is also getting to know you.