To help determine if a college is a good fit for you- keep asking “Do I see myself here?” There are certain “intangibles” for each school that can only be experienced through a visit. A successful college visit can also give you a competitive edge in gaining admission.
You and your parent(s)/ guardian
The ideal time to visit a college campus is when school is in session, when all students are on campus attending classes and when school personnel are available to meet with you. Realistically, summer works best for most families and therefore most admissions offices are geared to summer visits. While the campus life will be less busy than the regular school year, you should be able to get a “feel” for the college.
If your target schools are all close to home, visiting all is strongly encouraged. If your list ranges from California to Maine, this may be more difficult. It is all about being able to make good comparisons, so you should try to visit as many of your target schools as possible before filling out the applications.
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE VISIT?
Make as many arrangements in advance including:
- a campus tour and information session
- a one-on-one interview with someone in the admissions office
- meeting with someone in the financial aid office
- attending a class and meeting with a professor in your area of interest
- connecting with a coach if you are considering playing a sport in college
Make the campus visit your own: find time to informally walk around the campus to feel the “chemistry” of the school, talk with students, go to the favorite eating spot, read bulletin boards to see what’s happening on campus, take photos of the campus, etc.
IF YOU CANNOT VISIT:
- Look at virtual tours on college websites
- Email the admissions office with your questions
- Visit with representatives of the colleges who come to your school
- Look at a video/CD produced by the college, if available
Most college interviews will take place at the time of your college visit. Some schools require interviews while others make it optional. Be sure to know the policy of the schools to which you are applying.
Preparation is essential: familiarize yourself with the college, be prepared to explain why you are interested in the school. Do your research!
- Prepare good questions.
- Obtain a unofficial copy of your transcript and a copy of your resume.
- Be prepared to discuss who you are: strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes, major accomplishments, turning points in your life, influential people.
- Dress appropriately and comfortably. First impressions do count.
- Arrive on time. Be prepared to complete a questionnaire before the interview.
- Greet the representative with a firm handshake and smile. Introduce yourself and your parent(s)/guardian.
Try to remember that an interview is actually a conversation you are interviewing the college counselor about the school as much as they are interviewing you.
- Speak directly to the representative and make eye contact.
- Elaborate during the interview. Do not use one word answers.
- Relax and be yourself. Most admission representatives know that students are more than what appears on paper. Give the representative the whole picture; talk about your family, goals and outside activities.
- Remember to breathe! A good deep breath will help you relax and think clearly.
Questions you might be asked in an interview:
- Why are you interested in our college?
- Who/what has influenced you?
- What are your educational/career/academic/extracurricular/personal goals?
- What are you looking for in a college?
- Why are you interested in the field of study in which you wish to major?
- What kinds of jobs have you held? Which were most interesting to you?
- What would you do next year if you didn’t attend college?
- What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment to date?
- What do you expect a college education to do for you?
- As a student, what would you change about your study habits?
- How do you think you would manage your time while attending class?
- How do you explain your high/low grades in _______________?
- What can you contribute to our college?
- What are your favorite subjects of study? Least favorite? Why?
- Why should we accept you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What do you want me to remember about you?
Questions you might ask in an interview:
- What makes your school different/special? What are the students like?
- What is the philosophy, mission, or purpose of the institution?
- What is the average class size in your freshman year? Overall?
- What are the smallest class sizes? The largest?
- Do graduate students teach undergraduates?
- What are the most popular majors?
- What is the farthest distance between academic buildings?
- How are students advised about which courses to take?
- How far is the campus from the nearest airport? Train station? Bus station?
- Do you provide transportation locally? To where? How much does it cost?
- What percentage of your students live on-campus? Off-campus?
- How are students assigned to a room? To a roommate?
- Are there coed residence halls? Do they all live on one floor? Share bathrooms?
- What services are provided in the resident halls? Laundry area? Kitchen? Air conditioning? Wireless?
- Are freshmen required to live on-campus? In separate residence halls?
- What kind of food service do you offer?
- What kinds of meal plans are available? How many meals are offered each day?
- Is there a salad bar? Choice of entrees? Vegetarian options?
- Is financial aid need or merit based?
- What types of scholarships are available? How many students receive financial aid?
- What are the financial aid procedures and deadlines?
Since visiting several schools in a short period of time may cause confusion, what happens after your visit is essential.
- Jot down important notes.
- Review photographs you took on campus (or the college’s virtual tour ) to help jog your memory.
- Follow up immediately with a thank you note to the interviewer which references specifics from the interview.