Juniors, Now’s the Time to Schedule Your College Visits
Juniors, it’s time for you to get started on college visits.
Whether you’re thinking about knocking out one or two or hitting a series of colleges, here is your go-to guide for setting up a college visit.
We’ll walk you through a steps to take before, during and after visits to help you find your perfect fit.
And if COVID-19 protocols are still underway, don’t miss our article about what to do when you can’t tour colleges in person.
What Can Juniors Do Right Now?
Juniors can do a lot right now, including developing a checklist and other things you can put on the family calendar.
Step 1: Start talking.
That’s right. Sit down and have a conversation with your family.
What are you thinking you want to do for college? Do you think you want to go to a large school? A small school? What fits your personality and preferences?
Start talking with adults you trust about schools that make sense for your needs.
Step 2: Brainstorm.
Have no idea where to start? Start a brainstorming session where you write down your visions about what you think your college experience might be like.
Rather than throwing a dart at a map and jumping in the car, it’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you see yourself going to a large or small school?
- Do you want a lot of personalized attention?
- Are you looking for a more selective institution?
- How far away from home do you want to live?
- When you envision college, what do you think of?
In other words, think broadly about your college visit choices, then think more narrowly about the colleges you’d like to visit.
Put a premium on relationships when you make this list.
What kind of people do you want to meet? What type of individuals do you want to learn from?
Remember, college is about way more than pretty residence halls, beautiful buildings and other aesthetic things. It’s about the people who influence you along the way.
Step 3: Research at least one college.
Choose at least one college and do as much research as you can. Learn more about that particular school’s:
- Admission criteria
- Results — how many students go to graduate school, get a job after graduation, etc.
- School profile
- Academics and selectivity: Are you looking for a serious academic environment? Would you rather go to a school that focuses on undergraduate teaching — or research?
- Potential majors
- Housing information
- Extracurricular activities
- Athletics opportunities
After you narrow down some of the “big” things, like distance from home and general experience, then you can start thinking about things like major, requirements and more.
Does this college college or university you’ve researched fit the bill? If not, look for another one. If that one makes sense, move toward school as your first visit.
Step 4: Check the calendar.
Once you’ve honed in on your first college to visit, figure out what visit day fits into your schedule. Check your calendar and your family members’ calendars too. Remember, mom and dad likely have to drive you to your visit or coordinate flights. You need to plan the visit with your parents, and you might need to make sure your brothers’ and sisters’ schedules are open too.
How to Set Up a College Visits
First of all, make sure you (the student!) call the schools where you’re interested in setting up a visit.
Your mom or dad should not make the call. It’s time to put some of those adulting skills into practice.
Step 1: Think through what you want to do on your visit.
Who are the must-see people on your radar—the soccer coach, tutoring center, a financial aid advisor? It’s OK if you’re not sure. You can work through some of these questions when you make your phone call to the admissions office.
Step 2: Call the college or university’s admissions office.
Don’t set up a visit online. Talk to an actual person.
Or, if you do set up a visit online, call and make sure the admissions office received your scheduled visit—and that it didn’t get lost in cyberspace.
Have a detailed conversation about what you’d like to do when you’re on the visit.
Step 3: Ask for a personal campus visit.
Try to steer clear of group visit days.
Naturally, you’re an individual and have specific interests and needs.
When you’re stuck on a group visit, no one student will have the same interests as you. You could get stuck touring the gym for 25 minutes of your hour-long tour (even if you’re not an athlete or hate the thought of a treadmill). Who wants that?
A personal campus visit ensures your visit is all about you and nobody else.
Step 5: Get ready!
You don’t want to start a college visit without doing some preparation. You want to know as much as possible about the college you’re visiting before you visit.
Simple. You don’t want to waste time learning stuff you already know. If you already know the basics, like the size of the college, majors available and costs, why spend time relearning stuff you already know?
Plus, it brings camaraderie with the admission staff or chemistry professors when you say, “Yeah! And that biochemistry secondary major—that sounds cool.”
You’ll never believe how much people’s eyes light up when you know something about the college or university already.
What to Do During/After Visits
When you arrive at the admissions office, go to the campus visit coordinator’s desk and introduce yourself. That individual will help you get your day started in the right direction.
While you’re on your visit, do your best to ask great questions. You want to think of questions before you visit and ask everyone questions. Get each person talking about the college or university you’re visiting. It’s best to get candid thoughts from each individual you talk to.
This may sound like a pain, but it’s a good idea to get all your thoughts together and take a minute or two to jot down all your initial reactions to the college you’ve just visited. Grab your phone and type in some notes on the card or plane ride home.
Believe it or not, it’s difficult to remember each individual school after your 10th college visit.
Now’s the Time!
Juniors, we’ve offered everything you need to know about how to schedule a college visit.
It’s a matter of sitting down with your family members or other trusted adults, pouring over Niche’s 2021 college rankings and making lists of what matters to you.
It’s going to be a great time, so have fun with the process.
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