Let’s make this perfectly clear: college visit is an excellent chance for you to learn more about your future Alma Mater and such attributes of it as…
- mentors, scholars and lecturers
- social life, college events
- scholarship programs, financial benefits, and aid
- extracurricular activities and programs
- dormitory, cafes and life quality in general
- sporting events (and cheerleading teams)
- fraternities, secret masonic societies and so on.
Basically in that scenario, you play the role of a picky and finicky connoisseur and the college is, of course, the delicious, rich with taste and aroma wine. That needs to be rated by you from one to five stars.
Now, if you were a wine connoisseur, wouldn’t you taste that nectar fastidiously to know if it’s worth a high grade and praising?
Of course, you would. But alas! One day of such a visit will fly by in a blink of an eye and the impressions that you get from such a brief, brief, elusive moment will be the only source of rational, sober judgment for you when deciding: is that college really worth me? Am I going to do fine there?
So how is it possible to avoid lamentable and deplorable mistakes and keep your college fund and precious time safe from wasting when picking a school?
To bring you some relief and peace of mind, we suggest a couple of tricks that will help you squeeze everything out of a one-day college visit.
Research in advance
Before hopping upon a train, making yourself comfy on a plane or plugging your ears with the earphones (in order not to go berserk or homicidal during a lengthy car trip), try to explore your potential Alma Mater on-line.
Many colleges and universities today throughout the world endeavor to be as much modernized as it’s only possible and one of the options they have to offer to the applicants is the so-called “virtual college touring”.
It includes interactive 3D photographs, a short retrospective of the university from the dawn of its history, the list of its outstanding graduates (if there were any of course), names of partnering companies or other universities, professors’ biographies, etc.
If such an option is unavailable, then you can conduct your own investigation on the history and reputation of the college. Read the commentaries and anonymous reviews written by other students, Google the college’s name, check its building on the Google street view, find out how many PhDs the college has in total or if it has won any awards in the field of education – do some Sherlock roleplay in other words.
And to speak the truth, a cautious and scrupulous investigation may replace a physical trip to the college itself, thus saving you trouble and some sweet gas money.
For instance, if it has no incubator system for student start-ups, no Dungeons and Dragons theme club or a personal award-winning sports team with a thunder-like marching band and a stadium large enough for a Super Bowl (and you absolutely can’t imagine college «golden years» without all those magnificent things) – there’s always some room in the garbage bin. Wink-wink.
Have the college visit scheduled
But let’s pretend imagine you have no slightest desire to stay at home and hibernate in front of the computer and the crusade for college checking is calling upon you.
You may ramble around all by yourself, gawking at the buildings of the college and dormitory, trying out some mouth-watering bagels from the local cafeteria, but ultimately this will lead you to nothing.
What you should really do is to sketch out the plan of your intended tour and contact the college’s administration, for instance, the admissions office.
Make all the necessary calls beforehand to make sure your appearance won’t be as unexpected as a nasty cold sore (meaning «a total surprise»). Make an inquisition about any forthcoming college tours and if the timing is alright for you then no more hesitation – hit the road (Jack).
Such a tour has plenty of advantages because nothing can and never will replace first-hand impressions and experience: you can communicate with the college officials and students personally, interrogate them on any topic you’re concerned with and only afterwards proudly retreat to the local cafeteria for some legendary bagels.
Well, you can grab a couple of students by the chest, yelling in their faces: “I need the answers! Gimme the answers for Christ’s sake!!" and even slap their cheeks, but only after two or three of them you will be captured and immobilized by the law enforcement or campus security (and tased repeatedly).
Instead, try occasional chit-chat in the above-mentioned bagel cafeteria, coffee spot or another student’s eatery – this will allow you to get impartial, unbiased opinions on the college life and opportunities it provides the students with.
Don’t be shy to demonstrate that you’re seeking advice, and sincerely, straightforwardly state your business.
Luckily, most people are kind and responsive, they genuinely enjoy being helpful and Don't mind consulting others, especially if those “others” are less experienced rookies.
It would be quite convenient, if you prepared the list of questions that trouble your mind antecedently, in order not to let a single one of them slip away from your memory. Grab some paper and a pencil and put your questionnaire down.
Communicating and discussing various questions with the college officials over the phone or via Internet is incredibly helpful. Yes, the use of it is undeniable and you should be thankful for all the amazing benefits that the technical progress grants us with.
But you’ll receive all the info you need and get all the replies a lot quicker if you do the inquisitions in reality, yourself.
When talking face to face, communication is instantaneous and you'll catch a grasp of how the school system truly works.
Plus remember: asking about financial aid or available scholarships always makes sense, since there are dozens of scholarship packages available in the country.
And also it is quite desirable for you to attend the college’s own «career center» during your visit – there you will learn about opportunities to which you’ll have access after graduating from the college.
Keep in mind that choosing your future Alma Mater is a tremendous responsibility. It’s almost as big as getting married.
Who would’ve gotten married to a person he/she’s known for only 5 minutes?
So do your research carefully, because this is your first step into the grown-up life.
If for some reason the college you chose doesn’t meet your criteria or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, you can always drop it. Or transfer to another one.
But changing colleges like disposable, one-time napkins is no option either – it will drain your funds and be a colossal time waste.
So make be diligent at your «homework» and take into consideration all the pros and cons of every single school you’re thinking of applying to.
And if you have your calculations right, the college life will provide you with a plethora of opportunities, chances, adventures, acquaintances, impressions and sweet, sweet memories for the rest of your life.