There is no singular activity that can tell you more about a college than a campus visit. Websites, mailers and, even visits from admissions officers are all marketing materials. Their collective goal is to convince you to apply. There is no singular activity that can tell you more about a college than a campus visit. Websites, mailers and, even visits from admissions officers are all marketing materials. Their collective goal is to convince you to apply. They will show you photos of tree-lined walkways, recreational facilities like rock climbing walls and beach volleyball and legions of enthusiastic students supporting their all-star team. They will not be so forthcoming in telling you that the campus is falling apart, students run around stressed and depressed or that the library has a strange stench that can neither be identified nor resolved. This is why a campus visit is imperative before making your college decision. Walking through campus, meeting the faculty and students and eating in the cafeteria will give you a much more accurate understanding of what life as a student at that school will be like.
During your visit, take note of these things:
- How many students are sporting the college sweatshirt? This will give you an idea of how strong the school spirit is at this institution.
- Is there a general uniformity to the student body or are there different groups of students on campus? How are students dressed? Are they preppy, alternative or outdoorsy? Do a significant portion of students have piercings or tattoos? This will give you an idea of how liberal or conservative the student body is and whether the culture is a good fit for you.
- Outside of class, are students sitting together in groups or are they sitting alone, with headphones on? This will give you a sense of how collaborative the community is.
- In between classes, are students talking with professors on college green or do faculty speed through campus with their heads down, in a rush to get to their next classes? This will tell you how approachable professors are, both in and out of class.
- Are facilities in good shape or are they falling apart? This will give you a sense of the school’s financial health and whether they are continuing to invest in the future.