A college visit is possibly the most important component of your college search.
Without a visit, you are applying blind.
Without a visit, you can’t know if the college is a good fit for you.
And without a visit, you won’t be able to make three important personal connections: the college admissions counselors, college financial aid officers, and current college students. These three groups of people will help you make your final college choice and see you express interest in the college, which contributes to getting accepted.
And, not only will these connections help during your application process, you can use these connections after you join the college community to ease your transition to college.
1. College admissions counselors
Making friends with the admissions department can do more than provide useful information. A connection with an admissions counselor can go a long way toward securing an offer of admission.
Colleges keep track of student visits and those connections. When my daughter applied to Boston University, her connection with the admissions counselor helped facilitate her offer of admission even though her application was marginal and her test scores were below the college’s average.
When you’re on campus, schedule an interview. After the interview, ask for a business card with the counselor’s contact information. Follow up after the visit and stay in touch throughout the admissions process. When your application arrives, they will be able to put a face with a name and this alone could move your application to the top of the pile.
2. College financial aid officers
While on campus, schedule an appointment with the financial aid office. Ask questions about the total cost of college, how much freshman student aid they typically provide, and college specific scholarships. As with the admissions office, secure a business card with contact information.
This connection will also be helpful once you complete your FAFSA and receive your financial aid award. You might need to clarify some financial information, ask questions about the aid package, write an appeal letter, or communicate with them about your aid disbursements.
3. Current college students
Don’t forget to go on a tour when visiting a campus. And after the tour, exlore the student hangouts on campus: the student union, the dining hall, residence hall patios and the campus bookstore.
The student tour guide can provide you with helpful information and be a valuable connection after you are offered admission. Ask for contact information in case you have any additional questions after the tour.
Connecting with students will also help you get a feel for the type of student who attends the college. Are they friendly, approachable, and willing to help? It is these student connections that often make or break a college choice. If you don’t feel at home socially, the college is probably not a good fit for you.