Talk to any high schooler or their parents about the college admissions process and you will hear tales of woe.
The prospective student will mention how hard the SAT or ACT was. He or she will complain about the dreaded college interview and their parents will nod their heads in agreement, claiming to have gotten a gray hair or two from helping their child navigate the intimidating world, or gauntlet, rather, that the admissions process is known to be.
But if you listen closely to their responses, you will catch the undertone of excitement in their voices, because the prospective freshman is about to have his dream become a reality. The soon-to-be high school graduate is about to make his parents proud by going off to college. And most likely what’s helping to drive that excitement is not only the idea of independence that’s awaiting the student, but also the student probably has had tangible evidence of what college life can be like because he or she attended a campus visit. A campus visit has a way of making or breaking your view of a college or university. If you haven’t gotten a chance to take one yet, check out a few pros and cons of the campus visit listed below to decide if a visit to the college of your choice is worth it for you.
Become Familiar with the Campus
The first day of freshman year can be terrifying, yet exciting at the same time. And if you’ve gone on a campus visit ahead of time, you can at least rest assured that you know where most of your classes are, so the embarrassment of showing up late to class because you thought it was in Reed Hall instead of Campus Center is less likely to happen. Overall, one of the best aspects of the campus visit is that you’ll become familiar with the amenities the campus offers, as well as learning the layout of the buildings which can be confusing and intimidating if you arrive as a freshman who hasn’t had the opportunity to visit the campus before.
Get Your Questions Answered by a Professional
While you’re visiting the campus, you’ll have a chance to talk to various administrative offices on campus, specifically Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Life and you’ll probably have the opportunity to meet a few professors. Most likely arrangements will be made with these offices and individuals by the organization that hosts the campus visits to speak to students about any concerns or questions they may have. This means you’ll have the opportunity to cover any additional information you may need before even being accepted. This will help you decide if it’s the right school for you academically, financially, and socially.
Learn About Aspects of the College Often Unspoken
The campus visit provides you with a great opportunity to speak with actual students of the university. You’ll get to hear their perspectives of life on campus and learn what makes college life at that particular college or university special. As a result, you’ll learn about aspects of the college that aren’t talked about in the campus viewbook or their social media. You’ll get to know about the college of your choice “behind the scenes”, which will give you a better idea of what you truly can expect if you choose that college or university as your home.
Get a Sense of What College Life Will Be Like
Arguably, the best aspect of the campus visit, especially if you’re going to be there overnight, is the opportunity to experience college life before committing to any one college. The campus visit should include social events that you can attend. Most likely you’ll get a chance to shadow a student and sit in real classes. Most importantly, you’ll have the chance to just relax and hang out with college students who might eventually become your peers. This will give you a glimpse into your future there, and that glimpse may be all you need to choose one college over another.
Highly Organized Events
It’s important to remember that college visits can be highly orchestrated. As in, depending on the college you’re visiting, your entire day might be organized by the campus visit team. This means you’ll only experience aspects of college life that they deem important or necessary. You might be so busy attending all the events for prospective students that you don’t get a chance to venture off and explore the college for yourself.
Can Set Unrealistic Expectations
Keep in mind that you’ll most likely only see what’s great about the college when you go on your campus visit. You will probably not get a chance to have a not-so-great experience because most aspects of your campus visit will be pre-determined by the admissions team or the campus welcome center and it’s their job to make the college look good. This might lead to unrealistic expectations in the long run of what your actual college experience will be.
Can Lead to Disappointment
On the other hand, you might go on a campus visit and have a terrible time. Your student host might be an obnoxious person. You might find yourself locked out of a dorm by accident. The campus food might be gross and the professors you may encounter might be boring and detached. So yes, the campus visit can set unrealistically high expectations of what college life can be like, but it can also give you the wrong impression of a college that actually might be the best fit for you
To conclude, campus visits are definitely worth it. It’s a unique opportunity to learn more about the campus, and most importantly, the people that will accompany you in the next four years of your life. And like with anything in life, there will be positive and negatives associated with the campus visit experience, so be sure to keep an open mind and not put too much pressure on yourself or the college for that matter. Have fun, learn something new, meet someone different, and use what you learn from the campus visit as just one other aspect of the college admissions process that will help you ultimately decide which college would ultimately be the right fit for you.