East High School Career Center COLLEGE VISIT TIPS

No publication or website, no matter how thorough, can give you a complete picture of a college or university.  A campus visit is the best way to see for yourself what a college is like.  Advanced planning with the college’s admissions office is important to help you make the most of your visit.  When you’ve decided to visit a campus, email or call the admissions office.  Tell them the date you’d like to come and the approximate time you expect to arrive.  Ask if they can arrange tours, visiting classes, meeting a financial aid officer and, if applicable, meeting a professor in a particular area or coaches.

PREPARING FOR A COLLEGE VISIT –                                                                                            
You’ll Get More Out of Your Visit If You Plan Ahead

* Special visits and Open Houses are scheduled during MEA in October at many colleges in Minnesota.
* Visit during the school year when students are on campus.This is the best plan as you’ll only get a true feel for the campus if you’re there on a day when classes are in full swing.
* Research each college so you know something about it before you arrive.
* Get a map of the school so you know where to park and where various buildings can be found
(example: Admissions office)
* Be prepared to take pictures (using a camera or phone), take notes and use our comparison worksheet – the details of the colleges start to merge after seeing a couple.

Plan to spend about half a day at each college. Visiting no more than 5 schools in 3 days is a good rule.  While there plan to:
*Take a tour (ask a student tour guide for opinions)
*Eat in the cafeteria (many colleges will treat you)
*Visit the Student Union
*Browse in the library (ask about hours)
*Sit in on a class (the same class at each college will provide a good comparison)
*If interested in a particular major, talk to professors in that department
*Talk to students (views can vary so talk to as many people as possible)
*Read the school newspaper (it usually covers controversial issues)
*If you’re curious about a sport, program or club, arrange to attend a practice, rehearsal or meeting.
*Check on public transportation
*Talk to someone in the Financial Aid Office and pick up financial aid forms
*Get names of people you meet for future contact. (Send a thank you note to anyone you spent time with.)

Take notes on each visit in order to compare the colleges later.  Making a list of questions ahead of time that you ask at each college is a helpful way to compare them.


ADMISSIONS: That is the range of ACT (or SAT) scores and class rank for the freshman class? How many stay 4 years? How many applicants are there each year? How many who are admitted actually attend? Ask about the placement record for graduates in the field you might study.

CURRICULUM: How many courses are required and how many are electives? What is the policy on credit for AP/PSEO/CITS classes? Who actually teaches the classes for first year students? How much time do professors spend with students? How large are the classes and lectures? What is the policy if a class you need is full?

COSTS / FINANCIAL AID: What is the average financial aid package? Is any merit-based aid available?

STUDENT BODY: What percent of the students live in the dorms? How many commute? How many have cars? Do you need a car? What percent of freshman return for the sophomore year? What percent graduate in four years? What percent go on to graduate school or medical or law school? How many students take part in study abroad programs, and which ones does the school sponsor? What happens after class and on weekends? What athletic, cultural, religious or other campus events are offered and how many students take advantage of them?

ADVISING: How are advisors assigned, especially for freshman? Are they professors or teacher assistants? How many students are assigned to the same advisor? How much help is provided in choosing courses? What about tutoring or writing assistance? Who can help if you have personal problems? What opportunities are there for community service? What are the opportunities for internships? Can you work with faculty doing research
while an undergraduate? What services are provided for career planning and job placement at graduation?

SAFETY: What has been the record with crime on and near the campus? What precautions are taken? What about walking on campus late at night?

HOUSING: What types of dorm accommodations are available? What is the policy on changing during the school year? What eating options are available? Who is on campus during the weekends? What are the fraternity & sorority houses like?

FACILITIES: What are the library hours, especially during exam time? Where are the computer labs? What kinds of computer access is available in the dorm rooms? How up-to-date are the science labs? When are the labs available? What health services are available and the hours? What recreational facilities are available
and the hours?

When you talk to students, ask … 
*How many hours a week do you study? Is that typical? 
*Are campus jobs readily available? 
*Are faculty members interested in students and accessible outside of class? 
*Do many students go home on weekends?

*Is the food good? 

*Is it possible to study in your dorm room?  

*What’s the library like as a place to study or do research?  
*What do you like most about this college? ... least?
*How easy is it to get the classes you want at registration? 
*If you had to do it again, would you still choose this college? 

If you attend a class, ask yourself …

*Are students interested in the material?

*Is there time for questions & discussions? 

*Do students participate?

*Are students prepared for the class?

*Am I intellectually challenged by what is taking place in the class?

*Do I feel that the students are learning new facts or new ways of thinking about a subject? 

*Is there good rapport between professors and students? 

*Would I feel comfortable as a student in this setting?

As you tour the campus, ask yourself … 

*Are the older buildings in good repair? 

*Are there new buildings as well as older ones?
*Is the lab equipment up-to-date and plentiful?
*Are rooms in the residence halls pleasant? 
*Are they quiet enough to study in? 
*Are there laundry & kitchen facilities? 
*What’s the cafeteria like? 
*Are the grounds well-kept? 
*Is the setting and architecture appealing? 

*What’s the surrounding town or city like? 
*Would I feel comfortable here? 

When your visit is over, consider …

*Were the people you met friendly and answered questions fully and candidly?

*Did you feel the students were the kind of people you’d like to get to know?

*Did you sense the college was interested in having you as a student?

*Did you like the social atmosphere?

*Did the campus itself impress you in anyway?

*What did you think about the quality of instruction?

*What do you feel about the academic demands & atmosphere? 


Some colleges require an interview, though many do not. If the college requires or recommends one, see if you can schedule it during your campus visit. As with any interview, try to be on time. If you know you’ll be delayed, call ahead.
Also, review the information and notes you have on the college and prepare a list of questions ahead of time. Take the list along, so you’re sure to cover everything you wanted to find out. Try to schedule your interview with your first choice school after you have had others, so you will be familiar with the interview situation and feel more confident.
You will probably be asked about your background, interests, hobbies, goals and why you’re applying to the college. It’s natural to a little nervous. Try to see it as a conversation in which you ask questions, too. Relax and enjoy the experience.

In your interview, you could ask……
*What is distinctive about the college?
*Does your college have academic programs that fit my interests?
*What are the limitations, if any, for freshman as far as registration, academics, special equipment and programs?
*What are the strengths and weaknesses of the college’s advising system?