Updated: Aug 16, 2022
College visits can be a lot of fun! For a comical taste of a college road trip, you can check out “College Road Trip | Disney Movie" the 2008 movie starring Rayven Symone as a high-achieving high school student who uses her college road trip to assert her independence from her over-protective father played by Martin Lawrence. Now, let’s hope your student’s college road trip is not that zany, but college visits are a great time for you to show support for your high school student as they explore college campuses, research their choices, and refine their college list.
College visits offer a unique opportunity for your student to see if the college would really be a good fit for them. Also, a little planning can go a long way. So here are some tips for your student (and you) to get the most out of a college visit:
· Get online now and register for a campus tour and information session: Most colleges have specific days and times that they offer tours of the campus and information sessions. Plan your schedule, then get online and register now. Spots for these events can go quickly, especially during the weeks of spring break up to early summer. Campus tours are usually conducted by undergraduate students, and the information sessions are conducted by admissions officers. You can probably enter the campus on your own and take a self-guided tour, but it may be more beneficial to get a student-led tour, and it is definitely beneficial to attend an information session.
· Come with questions: Encourage your student to research the school you are visiting and compile questions to ask during the visit. The student-led tour guide will provide a wealth of information about the college and can answer questions about the college landscape, dining, dormitories, and facilities. This is a great opportunity to learn even more about the campus and college traditions. The information session provides a great opportunity to ask about specific academic demands and expectations, the admissions process, and financial aid. That said, be sure to have a notepad and pen to jot down notes during the visit.
· Explore on your own: The student-led campus tour will give you the lay of the land. After your sessions end, set aside time to casually browse the campus on your own. You may run into some undergraduate students who will take time to speak with your student about their experiences at the college, including the academic demands, the social scene, and the quality of the cafeteria food! Also, be sure to speak with other black students to find out about the racial climate on campus. You should want to know if there are frequent racial incidents, or if the social climate is pretty harmonious. Most colleges will have a Black Student Alliance that represents the interests of all black undergraduates, and there may be black organizations targeted to special academic or social interests, such as an organization for black engineering students, or black business students. You may also seek out members of black fraternities and sororities on the campus. These students can provide your student a wealth of information about the college and life on campus. Bottom line, the more your student speaks with college students on campus, the more important insights they will gain to determine whether a college might be a good fit for them. These insights are priceless for your student!
· Eat in the dining hall: If possible, try and have lunch in the dining hall or other on-campus eating area. Encourage your student to sit with college students if possible. Observe the environment and get a feel for the student vibe. This will also give your student an opportunity to check out the food quality: Is the food good? Is the menu diverse? Are there healthy choices available?
· Visit a class: Try to arrange a visit to a class on a subject that interests your student. This may be hard during spring break when many high school students are visiting campus, but your student may be able to arrange a visit in a class during a lower-peak time. This would be a great opportunity for your student to experience a college lecture and observe the academic demands of college students.
· Visit the Department in which your student may seek a major: If your student already knows that they want to major in psychology, or intends to seek a major in Engineering, visit the Department and check out the bulletin boards and other public announcements. This will tell your student a lot about special events, programs, internships and jobs pertinent to your student’s prospective major. This may seem premature, but this is very important! During your student’s last two years of college, they will be spending most of their academic time at the Department and will be relying on Department opportunities to, for instance, serve as a research assistant to a professor, seek grants for conducting independent research, or pursue graduate school. In visiting the Department, your student could also run into undergraduate students in the Department who could provide valuable insights on Department’s program.
· Talk to a professor. In addition to visiting the Department, your student may want to speak with a professor. This is another unique opportunity where for your student to ask a faculty member about major graduation requirements, class sizes, and undergraduate research opportunities.
As you can see, there is a lot to be gained from a college visit. But the visit is only as good as the preparation that goes into it. For colleges that your student is most interested in, you should encourage them to try and pre-arrange a class visit and to meet with a professor. In addition, for all visits, encourage your student to speak to as many undergraduate students as possible; especially speak with students in their prospective major or who are engaged in activities (research, politics, sports, newspaper/radio, theater) in which your student is interested. This will help your student sort out the best fit for them as they explore college choices.
Good luck and drop us a line through our Contact page to let us know how your college visits go! We’d love to hear from you!