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The Five Things to Know Before You Go on a College Visit

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High School Students Touring a College Campus

College visits are a crucial part of every high school student’s college choice process. These visits provide students with valuable information about each of the colleges that will be on their application lists.

But before you visit, here are five things to know about visiting college campuses:

1. The answers to the right questions can heavily influence a student’s decision.

A college visit is a fact-gathering mission. Students often ask questions during the college tour but the right questions can heavily influence a student’s decision. These questions won’t always be covered on the tour and many colleges might be hesitant to address them, but it’s important to ask them:

  • What is the four-year graduation rate? Graduating in four years will save you money. Believe it or not, six years is the new norm.

  • What percentage of your graduates are employed after graduation? This will help you and your student evaluate the ROI (return on investment) of the degree.

  • What percentage of the freshman class is either Early Admission or Early Decision? This will help your student decide whether to apply EA, ED or regular admission.

  • What percentage of students who apply are offered admission? A low percentage means the college is more selective and offers admission to only the best students.

2. You can ask to stay overnight.

Many colleges will allow prospective students to stay overnight on campus. They allow students to stay in a dorm, get to know current students and other students who are also applying, and attend a class to see what college is like. Staying overnight is a good way for your student to get a feel for life on campus and get to know the campus culture. However, be sure to discuss dorm safety with your student and what to do if he or she feels uncomfortable in a situation.

3. It may be possible to shadow a student.

Shadowing a student provides a good way for your student to learn more about student life and experience an academic setting. Most colleges offer this option and you can even register online on the college website. There’s no better way to evaluate a college and determine if it’s a good fit for your student than to actually become a student for a day.

4. You can sit in on a class.

Even if you don’t spend the night on campus, you can sit in on a class. Try asking your tour guide about visiting a class. Attending a class is one way for students to check out majors and determine if that college and/or major is a good fit.

5. You can talk to a student or a professor in your anticipated major.

While visiting, seek out a student in your anticipated major. This is a good way to find out more about how the specific program works and opportunities in that major. Getting a student’s perspective is the best way to get the truthful inside scoop.

In addition to talking to students, it’s also possible to talk to professors. The admissions office can help you make an appointment before your visit. This is especially helpful for students who have already decided on a major.

College visits are fact-gathering adventures. Take advantage of every opportunity to help make that final college decision.

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