Why should you visit a college BEFORE you apply?

  1. All colleges are different. Don’t assume that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
  2. Location, location, location! Do you like the big city atmosphere, or something a little quieter? Take a walk around the campus and check out the surrounding area.
  3. Talk to students—And not just one! Talk to as many as you can. They’ll give you the honest answers to the questions you have and fill you in on the “secrets” of the campus (AKA: the fun stuff)
    Our own version
    Our own version
  4. Peek into a few classrooms (or better yet, ask if you can sit in on a class). Are they big lecture halls? Small classrooms? Are the students taking notes or involved in a discussion?
  5. Housing. Sometimes pictures of the student accommodations can be deceiving, so seeing them in person will help you figure out if you really can fit a futon, entertainment center, and bookshelf in your room (or to start working on your Tetris skills).
    View from the window

    View from the door
    View from the door
  6. Take the opportunity to meet a professor.  If there is a professor available in the area you’d like to study, ask if you can have a short meeting with them.
  7. Grab a copy of the campus newspaper. Stories and pieces written by students will also give you the lowdown on campus and local happenings and events.
  8. Try the food! Look through the options; is there more than one thing that sounds appealing? Make sure you try it too—there’s nothing worse than food that looks good but tastes, well, not so good. (Try a sandwich at Shorewood!)

All in all, you want to find a place that you can see yourself at for the next four years. If you can’t see yourself being happy there after your visit, don’t bother applying. Would you buy a car without test driving it?  A campus tour doesn’t take too long and will help you to make that important college decision. I know campus visits definitely helped me decide which schools I wanted to apply to and I hope that they’ll help you too. Happy touring! (You might even get me as a tour guide!)