khCollege Counselors, rightfully so, consistently emphasize the extreme importance of the college visit in determining the right college fit for each student. A college visit can in many ways confirm a student’s interest in a particular school, or have quite the opposite effect: a student realizes that that particular school is not for him. Whenever possible, a college visit should play a vital role in determining the student’s “final list” of schools he/she will apply to. Getting the most out of a college visit is important to obtain a true feel from a school.

As a senior in high school not very long ago, I will never forget the feeling that I felt when I was able to set foot on campus at my alma mater. From the student body, to the classrooms, to the overall vibe of the school, I instantly knew I wanted to go to this university. It is exciting when my own students return from a college visit and report the same feeling. I truly believe that a student’s success will depend on their level of happiness and comfort with the school they have chosen. On a college visit, it is important to ask the question, “Can I see myself here?”

Why should you visit a college to which you are thinking of applying? A college visit can give a sense of what to expect as a student on campus. This sense is one that you may not be able to attain by viewing a school’s website or speaking to a college representative. College visits allow the opportunity to speak to current students and possibly professors in order to learn more about the academic program in which you have an interest. In this way, you can compare and contrast the academic program at each school of interest. You may even have an opportunity to sit in on a class at the school you are visiting, which can offer perspective on class size, teaching style, etc. During a visit, you will experience student life on campus, the diversity of the student body, and campus safety. It is important that you are happy and comfortable at the college you select. Trust your instincts when you are on a campus visit…they can often be quite telling. Campus visits will include discussions regarding financial aid; having face-to-face discussions with a counselor regarding financial aid can often be extremely helpful to parents and students. Touring the dining hall and dorms is a stop during a college visit that will paint a picture of life on campus. While you are ultimately attending college for the purpose of educational advancement, we cannot rule out the importance of where you will stay, what you will eat, and the social aspects of living on campus. Student organizations, athletics, and campus activities can be important to one’s transition into a new setting. Finally, what is often essential to a visit is to view the campus layout and transportation services. Some campuses are more spread out while at others, you can walk to each building with ease.

Again, it is essential to gain an understanding of the ins and outs of each school.

Tips for College Visits (Website Resources):  

By Karen Horvath

Mrs. Horvath is College Counselor at Morgan Park Academy, a private independent school in Chicago, Illinois.