Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: College Visits, Part One–Planning

by Mr. Michael Wagner

One of the most important aspects of the college going process is visiting college campuses. There is no better way to understand what a college or university experience will be like than to spend time on the campus and walk the grounds.

The good, and…

Yes, when one attends a college admissions tour it is easy to think that the school will only present the positives—all the great aspects the school has to offer. In some ways that is true. However, there is so much you can learn from the moment you drive onto campus, and even during the drive to campus through the streets and neighborhoods around the school. You will get a feel for the environment of the school and what it may feel like at this place that you could spend four or five years calling home.

college library

What is reasonable?

As students formulate their college lists—usually in the spring of their junior year but sometimes sooner—there are some things to consider about planning visits. Some schools may be nearby, while others may be quite a distance away. Visiting schools further away from home can be difficult because of the time needed to visit as well as the number one factor – the cost. Let’s face it, the travel expenses to visit college campuses can get pricey quickly.

student looking at a map

What is nearby?

Students who live near colleges or universities should take advantage of the opportunity. Even if the school isn’t one you want to attend, visiting it can be of value. Now, I know what you might be thinking, if I do not have the school on my prospective list, why would I do this? Here is why. Before setting out on an extensive (and often expensive!) college tour, students can practice visiting a college campus. It is kind of like taking a practice SAT exam before taking the real exam. You will start to understand some of the things you like and don’t like about college campuses.  You will learn things to look for and questions to ask. And you will develop a base for comparison.

student taking photos in a city

Preparing to visit

So you are ready to set up a tour. To prepare for a visit there are some basic steps:

·       Access the school’s website and visit the admissions page.

·       Review the information provided to gain a basic understanding of the school.

·       Look for the tab included within the web page that will link you to the tour calendar with dates and times.

·       Select a date and time for a visit that fits your schedule.

·       Complete the information that is required to register for the visit. Make sure that the email address that is used is the one you will use for your college and university correspondence and one that you will check regularly. This is important as you will establish a touch point with the university—it is a way a student begins to show demonstrated interest in the school.

·       After setting up the visit, take time before the day of the visit to explore the school’s website for a better understanding of the school. Remember, if this is a “practice” school, you are using this exercise to prepare for a visit to a school that is on your college list. And keep an open mind. You may start to like aspects of the college you didn’t know about.

Once this is finished, there you have it, you have set up a college visit. The school’s admissions office will supply instructions such as the confirmed date of the visit, the details of arrival, the official start time of the tour, where to meet, where to park, what the tour will consist of, etc.
overview of student union

Taking an initial college tour is a great way to acclimate yourself to the process and start to truly understand how the process of visiting colleges works. Next week, I will address how to make the most of the visit by knowing what to look for and what questions to ask to make sure the experience is worthwhile.

Mr. Michael J. Wagner

Michael Wagner, MAED is a founder and the Knowledge Pilot for Launch Education.  Mr. Mike has assisted hundreds of students around the world on their college pathways.