Tips For A Great Campus Visit

You’ve spent the money to leave Taiwan and see a university - here is some advice to make the most of your visit.

Campus tour viewing Pomona College

The best way to see if a college is a good fit is to try it yourself: sit in on a class, eat lunch in the dining hall, watch student life firsthand…

Try to visit when school is in session - Naturally, the best time to get a feel for what a school is to see it during the school year, not during summer vacation. 

How to plan a visit

A good campus visit will take at least half a day. Don’t visit more than two schools a day.

Use Google Maps and/or Go See Campus to figure out an itinerary.

Make arrangements with Admissions: sign up for a campus tour (they often fill up fast) and info session, and sit on a class or meet a professor or coach. Try to stay overnight with a student. 

Contact students you might know at the school ahead of time to see if you can meet up.

What to do when you visit

My top tip is to take lots of notes & photos - Recollections of college visits can blur together  afterwards. Using a worksheet, such as the College Research Worksheet, to take notes and taking lots of photographs is helpful.

Research ahead of time
 - Don’t spend precious time during your visit asking questions of which the answers can be easily find on the school’s website. Hunt for information you can only learn in person.

Check out campus media: read the student newspaper, listen to the college radio station, and look at the bulletin boards.

University of Hong Kong student flyers

Seek out the “raw” side - Admissions always wants to present the “best side” of a campus, so wander on your own, observe, and talk to as many people as you can: students, faculty, staff.

Observe the interactions between people, particularly students, in the student center and other public spaces. Even the graffiti in the bathroom can give you a sense of the student culture!

Tip: Open up a campus map, pretend to be lost, and see how long it takes for someone to stop and help.

What to observe

When you visit a campus, notice the facilities - are they well maintained? Do regular students have access? What does the surrounding area look like? Would you feel comfortable hanging out, dining, and playing in the neighborhood? Will you need a car, or is there easy and available public transportation?

Students at Harvey Mudd College enjoy taking a wide variety of transportation options.
Eavesdrop on students to hear what they’re talking or complaining about. 

Questions that get “real” answers
  • What do you like about this school, and if you could change one thing what would it be?
  • What was your largest class freshman year? Your smallest? What is the size of the intro biology and intro psychology class?
  • How is your learning assessed - through multiple-choice exams, papers, or projects?
  • How often are you required to meet with an advisor?
  • Can I be shown the oldest dorm on campus? Are all freshmen housed in older dorms?
  • What are some popular extracurricular activities on campus?
  • How would you describe the relationships between athletes and non-athletes? Which teams are most supported?
  • What did you do last weekend? When does the weekend start (i.e. Thursday or Friday night)?
  • How stressed are you?

After the visit

Save the business cards and contact info of the admission officers, professors, etc. you meet. When you get home, send thank you emails to the people who helped you along the way.

Keep track of the details you like and the stuff that you don't like. Be careful not to rush to judgment if the weather was bad or the tour guide was cute.

Picture yourself as a student at each campus. Trust your gut. Sometimes it’s love at first sight.. 

You can print this article as a handy brochure.

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Source: Blog