How to get the most out of your college visit
Visiting colleges can be a stressful but exciting time. Here are some things you can do to get everything you can out of your experience.
Tour guides can only cover so much on tours but they can help answer questions. Come prepared with questions about your interests, such as extracurricular activities, academics, athletics, the arts, housing, social life or whatever sparks your interest. If a tour guide can’t answer your question, ask your admissions counselor.
Explore the local community
The college town you reside in will be home for the next four years. Explore the area around the college, and see if it fits your needs. Decide if you like urban, rural or anywhere in between. Find out if the community has opportunities for your intended majors/minors, such as internships or jobs. Ask your tour guide or admissions counselor about their favorite parts of the community.
Eat at the dining hall
This is where you’ll get a majority of your meals for the first few years, or even all four. Make sure you like the food options. If you have any dietary or religious restrictions, find out if the college’s dining hall can accommodate your needs. If you don’t check out what’s offered before you arrive, you may spend a lot of unnecessary money on takeout.
Keep track of similarities and differences of each college
Take notes on the similarities and differences of each college you visit. Learn what makes each campus unique, whether it be academics, activities, scenery, financial aid packages, scholarships or what matters most to you when deciding to commit.
Meet with faculty
Many colleges offer the opportunity to sit down with professors or other staff members to learn more about their program. Meet with faculty and discuss your interests, and ask questions about how that college can help you the most with your goals.
Explore on your own
Visit buildings you didn’t get to see on your tour on your own, or ask your tour guide or admissions counselor if they have time to take you. You could discover a study spot, or a campus hidden gem. Make sure to walk all over campus to get a feel for how long it’ll take to get from one spot to another. See if you like the layout, or if it’s confusing.
Don’t be quick to judge
One of the worst things you can do is go in with preconceived ideas, which can prevent you from getting the most out of your tour. There’s a possibility of poor weather, a tired or grumpy tour guide or your student host has completely different interests than you. Keep these things in perspective so they don’t ruin your entire perception of a college.
Step outside your comfort zone
Visit the college you might be skeptical about, or might be a “reach” school. The only limitations during visits are yourself, so make sure to branch out. College is very different from high school. It’s truly a place to be your authentic self, so don’t be afraid to consider trying something new.
Lastly, trust your gut
No matter what, trust that gut feeling when deciding which college is right for you. Make sure you analyze each college you visit and come to an informed decision that you can feel confident in. With that being said, start early. If you tour colleges too late, you won’t have enough time before decision day to make the best decision.
We hope you visit Augustana, and we already can’t wait to show you around. Schedule your visit now: https://www.augustana.edu/admissions/visit
Brett is a senior from Batavia, Ill., majoring in political science and multimedia journalism and mass communication.