1. Explore the City
The overall college experience is more than just time spent in class, it’s going to be time spent in a community and environment that is completely new. It is therefore extremely important that you feel comfortable in the city that you’re attending school in. As you start to approach campus, take some time to explore your surroundings in the city around you. Where are the local coffee shops? What are the movie theaters like? Malls? Restaurants and night life experiences? While you likely won’t be spending a whole lot of time here, it’s certainly necessary to have an idea of what it means to exist outside of campus. Make sure you feel comfortable while visiting what could end up being your new home.
2. Take the Tour
Once you’ve had a chance to look around, you should stop by the administrative office and schedule an official tour of the campus. Your tour will likely be led by a student who is only a few years older than you and can give you quite a bit of insight on his or her personal impressions of the school. Plus, tour guides are often full of interesting facts and other bits of useful info. You’ll get to learn about the school’s history, cool student hobbies, and serious information about the academic landscape.
3. Talk to Current Students
The best way to get a sense of what a school has to offer is by connecting with current students. Ask questions! More often than not, they’ll be full of praise for their chosen institution, so be sure to have a couple of tough questions on hand as well. In addition to asking for their thoughts on school life, you might also want to ask for their opinions on classes and professors as well as what it means to balance school work and social life. Just like in high school, freshmen and sophomores will have a different perspective than juniors and seniors, so be sure to poll a wide range of students.
4. Schedule a Meeting with Admissions Officers
Meeting with admissions officials on campus is a great way to demonstrate interest and put yourself on a school’s radar. Check out the school website to learn more about visiting hours and whether or not appointments are available. This is also a great time to ask general questions about academics, campus life, and other specific queries about career options and campus resources. Often, without students to tend to, administrators have a lighter work load and can extend their work duties to meeting with prospective students. Just be sure to glean the website first so that you don’t ask for redundant information!
5. Remember, it’s Summer!
If it seems like your first visit to your dream school is just a little too perfect, chances are, it might be. Remember, you’re visiting during break! Classes are out, students are relaxed, and the weather is perfect. Just remember that there will be days that aren’t always like this — some days it will rain during your 10-minute walk to class. Some days you won’t have time to see your roommates because you’re stuck in the library from sun up to sun down. It’s all part of the experience. Take what you learn on campus with a grain of salt, knowing that some days will be as calm and peaceful as they appear to be, while others might not be.
For more advice on the college planning process, stay tuned for more articles!
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