In different positions, I’ve worked with a college campus visit program for 5 years. In that time I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly as it relates to college visits. Here are my five tips on what NOT to do during a college campus visit.
Tip #1: Do NOT tour and jet
Deciding on a university is a HUGE decision: financial, time commitment. Plus you want to somewhat like the place you will lay your head for years. Scheduling multiple campus tours in one day can be exhausting. And if they are in different cities traffic could be an unforeseeable obstacle preventing you from arriving on time. Explore the surroundings. Go into an academic building that you are likely to have classes in. Look at places of interest to you that were not on the tour. Perhaps even talk to students who are on campus that have nothing to do with the admissions office.
Tip #2: Do NOT try to register last minute during peak times
Fall break, spring break, and summer break can be busy times for the college. Personally, I do not recommend registering for a campus visit during peak times for the college because I think you would get a distorted picture of the college as opposed to if you toured over an average fall or spring day. Besides, you run the risk of catching the school on a break as well.
If you are trying to register for a visit during a peak time for the school, be aware that registration could fill up quickly and close weeks or even months ahead of the actual tour date.
Also, if the school you are looking at is known for football, basketball, or another high profile sport, the day before a game could fill up fast!
Tip #3: Do NOT skip the meal on campus
Some schools offer free meals to campus visitors; many schools offer discounted meals for campus visitors. However, even if the particular college you have your eye on does not provide a discount to eat on campus take the time to eat in a dining hall (not a national brand restaurant like Subway or Chic-Fil-A — those are everywhere!). Food is an important part of the college experience, and even more so if the school requires you to live on campus and pay for a university meal plan.
Tip #4: Do NOT neglect to get the business cards from people you meet
The beauty about visiting campus is that you now have an in. You can tell your admissions counselor something along the lines of, “Hey John, I visited campus this past week and loved it. My question is….”. Visiting campus shows a college that you are interested. Admissions counselors appreciate that. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with students and families who I’ve met during a campus visit. Obtain contact information from everyone you meet. Don’t have a card? Write down their name, and you can look them up on the school’s website later. Most colleges have an online directory of students, faculty, and staff.