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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A COLLEGE VISIT

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A COLLEGE VISITIn the last week’s College Tip I encouraged you to visit some campuses, either those you are considering or those that resemble the colleges you are thinking of attending. Hopefully some of you will visit colleges over spring break either as a junior just beginning your college research or as a senior trying to make final decisions. And, some freshmen or sophomores may be on vacation and just happen to be near a college. If that is the case, I encourage you to visit even if you think the college search process is far away. Actually being on a college campus is the very best way to decide if that is where you want to spend four years of your life. Better to make that decision ahead of time rather than when you arrive on campus with bags and books in hand.

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK:

1. Do students get to take the courses they want? How accommodating are the administration and professors?
2. Is there a core curriculum? How restrictive is it? How broad is it?
3. Will you be intellectually challenged? Is tutoring readily available?
4. Do undergraduates get a chance to work with seasoned professors? If so, how?
5. How accessible are the faculty? How well do they get to know their students?
6. What are the strongest majors? Most popular majors?
7. Are performing arts opportunities available to non-majors?
8. Is study abroad encouraged? Does the financial aid package follow the student?
9. Is there guaranteed housing for freshmen? Where do upperclassmen live?
10. Do the students go home on weekends, leaving the campus deserted?
11. How do students spend leisure time? Is there any leisure time?!
12. Why do students leave the school for another school? Why do they stay?
13. What regulations are there for the students? Cars? Alcohol? Off campus living?
14. How accessible are the athletic and recreational facilities for non-intercollegiate athletics?
15. What is the average financial aid package freshman year? For remaining school years?
16. Is crime (petty or otherwise) a problem? If concerned, ask to see a local (not just the school report) police report.

SOME THINGS TO LOOK FOR AND MORE QUESITONS:

1. Look the campus over, being mindful of the general appearance. Are the old buildings in good repair? Is there new construction? How are the grounds maintained?
2. Observe the neighborhood around the school. How is the public transportation?
3. How appealing are the residence facilities? Adequate number? Well lit? Where located? Safety features (fire escapes, limited entry)? Are there a variety of residential choices? Laundry and kitchen facilities?
4. Is the eating facility inviting, clean, well run? Where is it located? What are the hours (important for athletes and late risers)? Are there a variety of eating choices with hours that appeal to students? What do the students say about the food?
5. Inspect the computer facilities. Is there an adequate number? How up to date?
6. Inspect the labs and equipment. How accessible? How modern? How plentiful?
7. Visit the library. How large? What are the hours? Any quiet study areas? Does it participate in any inter-campus loan programs with other colleges?
8. How well wired is the campus? Are the dorm rooms wired?
9. Is the Career Center well staffed? What is the placement record for jobs and/or graduate school in your chosen field?
10. Where is the campus clinic and is it well staffed and equipped?
11. How far is the airport/train station from the campus? What are the arrangements for getting to and from these?

This is a lot of information to cover. Some families find it better to split up with the parents going on the tour while the student attends the information session and then switching. Kids sometimes are more willing to ask questions without their parents around and, on the other hand, the parents can ask questions that might otherwise embarrass their student – I know, hard to believe, but so!

Judith Christie
College Planning Consultants