visiting a college campus

The Importance of Visiting a College Campus

Visiting a college campus on your own time may not sound appealing. You’re in high school; you only have two days off to sleep in, play video games, and go out with your friends. Why waste one of them looking at a bunch of empty common areas and classrooms? While it may seem dull, a college visit can be more interesting and beneficial than you might realize. You can show quite a bit of interest in a college with your social media presence or college application narrative[1], but nothing says “I’d like to go here!” than actually going there!


Admissions Advantage

Colleges keep track of which students and applicants visit them in person. Admissions officers will see that you visited a school when considering your application. Displays of interest like this can make you stand out among other applicants. An in-person visit will give you personal insight into college life that can be used in application essays. If you only use information from the college’s website in your essay, you will have the same information as every other applicant.


Refining Your College List

Visit the college, fall in love with the campus and the town it’s in, and use that appreciation for the location in your essay! This will give your application an important boost. Visiting colleges can also help you refine your college list[2]. Seeing a college in-person will inform you about what a college looks and feels like, and might make you consider needs you hadn’t before.


College Layout

For example, one very overlooked feature of college life is the dining situation. Do you plan to live in a dorm building on campus? Test out the nearest dining hall before you make any commitments. I had vegan and hypoallergenic friends in my dorm building who were not properly accommodated, and they often had to feed themselves on their own dime. Many other friends simply didn’t like the food, or the limited hours of the dining hall’s service. Something like this may not be a deal breaker for a specific college, but it helps to have all of the facts before you decide which school you’ll attend.

Visiting a college campus will give you proper understanding about a college’s location, layout, and atmosphere. Websites and photographs are a good start, but these often show a college in the most positive light possible. If a college is in a dull neighborhood, the college won’t brag about it on their website, but you can find out in person!


Personal Accounts

Personal accounts from students, ambassadors, and professors can tell you all the things a website can’t. A website can tell you what features the dorms and common areas have, but only a student can tell you what they’re like day-to-day. A website can give you a course syllabus, but only a professor can tell you what one of their ninety-minute lectures feels like. Information like this can only help you in your journey to find the right college for you. Perhaps not all of this information will be useful or sway your decision, but making your decision with the most information possible will reduce your anxiety and secure a great college career!


Visiting A College Campus

Visiting a college campus is not only a great way to boost your application and gather information, but also a great excuse for a trip to a new town! I grew up in central Massachusetts, so I took any excuse I could find to visit Boston. If there was a school I wanted to visit, my mother or father would drive us into the city for a tour. We’d make a day trip out of it; after a tour, we’d get lunch in the city and talk about what we’d seen at the school. Between both of my parents, I toured 4 schools in Boston, which taught me a lot about what urban schools feel like and the kinds of neighborhoods that were available to me as a student.


A day trip will only teach you so much about a place but remember that you’ll live in that town or city for four years. You don’t want to make that decision without visiting first!


Planning Your Trip

Your visit should be properly planned out beforehand. If you can, let the admissions department know you’re coming or plan your visit to align with open houses or guided tours. These will give you more information than an unannounced visit. Unannounced visits are unwelcome at certain schools. Some schools won’t let you into buildings without keycards, while others lock the building doors when class isn’t in session. Even if you can get in the buildings, many professors don’t want their classes to be disturbed by non-students.


Whichever colleges you’re considering, pay them a visit if you can. The visit will teach you quite a bit about the school, and visiting is more fun and interesting than you might think. Make a list, make some plans, and pay your dream colleges a visit!

[1] Links to Social Media Hygiene and Your College Application Narrative

[2] Link to Your Perfect College List