It would be nearly impossible for a student to make an attendance commitment to a college or university for four years without first getting an idea of the culture and personality of the institution. The college campus visit gives you an opportunity to visit with the students and faculty, and observe how the students live in the college environment. This observation and information will give you a much better idea as to whether or not you would be able to achieve your goals and academically prosper at that particular institution. The campus visit is extremely important to the entire college preparation and funding process – it lays the foundation for the relationship between the student and the college. It is very important to visit as many of your finalists schools as possible. Campus visits will give you the chance to get a feel for the atmosphere of the college. It also allows you to make that all-important first impression with both the college’s admissions officer and financial aid officer.
Although colleges highly benefit from the student’s visit, these visits should also be very beneficial to the students as well. You should arrange a plan, or agenda, when visiting the college campuses. An important point to remember during the campus visits is the fact that college is definitely a buyer’s market, and you are definitely the buyer. Unless the institution is one of the few in the country that can literally pick and choose its students, the buyer (visiting student) should actually be in charge.
Important Tip – Although you, the student, are the buyer and selecting a college is definitely a buyer’s market, you surely don’t want to convey the attitude of “you need me worse than I need you.” Always be cordial and courteous when visiting the campuses.
Campus visits may actually be conducted starting during the student’s high school junior year. However, the majority of students choose to visit the campuses during their senior year. Using the first part of the student’s senior year to make sure the campus visits are arranged and starting the visits in November is actually a good plan. This gives you the time necessary to carefully evaluate each and every one of your top college choices.
When to Visit
Although you may have to miss a day or two of high school classes, visiting a college campus during the week is essential in order to get an accurate impression of the school. Classes will be in session, activities will be taking place, teams will be practicing, and students will be studying. These experiences will help give you the true feeling of the college.
Important Tip – It is important to visit the college campuses during the week. This is by far the best way to get an accurate impression of the school.
While personally interviewing Mr. Brian Tokubo, President of Nationwide College Tours, a local South Orange County business, he revealed some “time-saving” and interesting points regarding CA Colleges:
- If a student (and parent) are planning to visit a UC, the student’s academic GPA must be a 3.0 or higher to be admitted.
- If a student (and parent) are planning to visit a Cal State, they should always visit their local area Cal State first. Local area students are given priority for admissions.
- If a student (and parent) are planning to visit a private university in California, meet with your local admissions representative. This individual will be in your corner during the application review process.
You should also consider staying overnight at the college if at all possible. In fact, most colleges often encourage overnight stays. To arrange an over-night stay with a current student, contact the Admissions Office and make prior arrangements. Try and stay with someone who has similar interests. An overnight stay will give you a much better feel for the entire college atmosphere.
Planning Your Visits
The most important part of the campus visit is to meet with the admissions officer and the financial aid officer. These pre-scheduled meetings will set the foundation for the college’s evaluation and acceptance of the student, as well as start the student’s financial aid file. You should call, and/or write, ahead of time to arrange a meeting with both the admissions and financial aid officers. The call and/or letter should be courteous and contain the expected dates for your visit. Remember you are making a first impression, an impression that may weigh heavily during the admission and funding process.
An excellent source of information for you and your student can be found at www.americancollegefoundation.org. Register your student for their scholarship offerings and there is no cost to have access to their wealth of information on the college process.
There is an old saying, “first impressions are lasting.” Remember, college planning and funding is a process, not an event.