Why Should I Visit Colleges?
Do you have to visit a college before you apply? No, of course not. But you may make better decisions if you do. With more than a third of students transferring and an increasing amount of students taking more than four years to graduate, save yourself the time and money and really get to know your school before you commit.
Similarly to buying clothes or shoes online, it's impossible to know if a school will fit comfortably and meet your expectations until you actually visit and experience it in person. Unlike going to the store and returning your purchase, transferring schools is not as easy.
When you sign up for an information session and take a campus tour, you can experience the environment and culture of the university - all aspects you can’t find on a website or in a book. In addition to the campus tour, take some time to sit at the campus coffee shop or student activity center and experience what it would be like to live there. Do you like the type of students? The conversation topics? Activities on campus? Dorms? Don’t be afraid to talk to the students at the school to get their opinion of the school. This is a place that’s going to be your home for four years, so you want to make sure it feels like home.
When you visit a school, you are also showing the school you are interested in them in the best way possible, because they know that you are taking time and resources to visit their school. This is especially important if you want to go to a school that values demonstrated interest as part of their application criteria. Some schools even offer on-campus interviews that you can take advantage of on your visit. Taking the opportunity to meet others at the school will also give them a chance to know you beyond your application and help you stand out.
Maybe you want to visit, but are worried about the cost? If that’s the case, take advantage of some of the fly-in programs that are available. You can find a list of them here. Fly-in programs give students an opportunity to spend a weekend at the school and many of the programs even cover part of the expenses. If you're interested in visiting a school, but it doesn't have a fly-in program, contact admissions and see if they can still try to work with you to set something up.
Anna Ren is on a mission to make applying for college as transparent and stress-free as possible for families everywhere. Anna is the Founder of Elite Advantage Prep and the affordable online college planning course, Prep for Success. Sign up to receive instant access to her free college planning mini-course “Prep for Success: College Planning for Teens.