“Is there truly a best time to visit college campuses? What are my options if I can’t visit campuses in person? I don’t even know which questions to ask when I’m on a college tour!” Three college admissions professionals are here to help you answer these questions and more as you navigate your college visit plan.
Most students will begin their college search process in the spring of their junior year. The college you are interested in will likely have weekday campus visits or an open house on a weekend. Dependent on the institution, you can expect to find an array of visit opportunities that you can tailor to your interests. Can’t make it in the spring? No problem! The fall of your senior year is another great time to visit campuses. When planning your visit, strive to visit on a day when students are not on break and classes are in session. Seeing a campus full of life allows you to picture yourself as a future student. Make sure you also plan time to explore the city where your college of interest is located – It could be your future home!
Unable to visit in person? This is now the age of virtual experiences! One thing we have all learned in 2020 is how to stay connected through a screen, and colleges throughout the country are more prepared than ever to meet you virtually and provide you with the same opportunities you would expect visiting their campuses. Virtual walking tours led by students, alumni panels and class observations are just a few experiences available to prospective students applying to college. In addition, many colleges provide opportunities for you to connect one-on-one with current students, faculty, and staff through various online formats. If you can’t find these resources readily available online, call and ask. And don’t forget, follow all college social media accounts! Social Media continues to be a great resource to connect with any college, learn about key admission dates, upcoming in-person and virtual events, as well as happenings on campus.
Once you’ve booked your visit, do some homework! Begin by building a rapport with your admissions counselor. Not only will they offer a wealth of information, but they will also be there to guide you through the application and admissions processes. Next, explore the university’s website looking for overall facts, internship opportunities, and most importantly, read up on the major or program you are interested in pursuing. In addition to academics, dive into student life. What types of clubs and organizations are on campus? Is there a large athletic presence on campus? What do students do for fun? This is another great opportunity to research the city you may call home for the next four years to see if it offers things you enjoy. Find out what industries are thriving in the area that could lead to potential job opportunities. Look into the social aspects of the city. In Nashville, there’s always an opportunity to catch a sports game or see live music. By familiarizing yourself with academics, student life and the city as a whole, you will be able to ask pertinent questions that will ultimately help you determine if a school is the right fit for you.
When visiting college campuses, you are receiving a lot of information. From the admissions session to campus tour, residence life to academic sessions, it can feel like you’re drinking from a firehose. Note-taking, whether by hand or on an electronic device, is an excellent way to ensure college visits do not muddy together. Every college/university will have internship and study abroad/away programs, but if you take good notes, you’ll remember which campus offers that unique study away experience in Hawai’i and which campus encourages you to begin internships the summer after your freshman year. Having a list of questions to ask during your college visit will help your notes stay organized, as well.
You can ask about the admissions process, scholarships, faculty, internships, student organizations, campus safety, the campus location and what life is like as a student on that campus. Below are some topics and specific questions you will want to ask on your next college visit:
- Who will be in the classroom? Do you have faculty, adjunct instructors, or graduate/teaching assistants?
- What types of hands-on, real-world projects do your students experience in your classes?
- What are the average class sizes for major-specific classes and general education courses?
- Do your faculty possess real-world experience and serve as mentors to your students?
- Do I need to apply separately for scholarships?
- Are there department-specific scholarships based on my program of interest?
- Is there a deadline for any of your scholarships? If so, when?
- Do you have scholarships for students in DECA?
- What do students do on the weekends both on and off-campus?
- How do I know which clubs and student organizations are on campus? Can I start my own student organization?
- What is the process for joining student organizations? When is recruitment for Fraternity & Sorority Life?
- Do you have a Collegiate DECA chapter?
- When can I begin internships and how do I find internship opportunities?
- Which companies do you have a strong relationship with?
- Please give me an example of a current student who is interning and what type of projects they are working on.
- Who are some of your alumni success stories and how did you all help them succeed?
You are now ready to maximize your campus visit experience! Staff, faculty and current students ultimately want you to find your best fit with a university or college. This process is meant to be fun – research your schools of interest, ask questions that will enable you to find your next home and enjoy the journey!
Contributed by Taylor Dillon, Assistant Director of Admissions | Jack C. Massey College of Business | Belmont University; Amanda Nunes, Assistant Director of Admissions Events & Operations | Belmont University; Meghan Westbury, Assistant Director of Admissions, Campus Visits and Call Center | Belmont University