Visiting a College Campus
A personal visit to a post-secondary institution is often the most useful step in helping students and their parents decide whether or not to apply to a particular school. Students should begin planning college visits after they have given considerable thought to their abilities, interests, and career plans. Some students begin visiting colleges during the spring of their junior year. Others visit campuses during the summer between the junior and senior year. By starting early, the process will feel less stressful. We strongly encourage Sturgis students to visit schools during the spring of junior year because of the demands of IB in the fall of senior year.
Students are encouraged to make use of group tours, open house events and group information sessions as a way of obtaining first-hand impressions of schools they have previously researched. We also encourage independent exploration of a campus. Eat in the cafeteria, spend time in the library, and pick up a copy of the student newspaper. Make it a point to speak with students other than your official tour guide.
Visits during the regular academic year provide a more accurate view of the academic and social life of a campus, but families often make use of summer vacation to visit several schools that are at a distance. Where possible, it is a good idea to avoid the distortions of registration, final exams and special campus events such as homecomings or festivals. Several high school holidays such as Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, and February and April vacations, allow students who visit colleges to minimize the disruption to their own academic program.
How Do You Make Arrangements For a Campus Visit?
Students should sign up on-line or call admissions offices at least two or three weeks in advance and make arrangements for a personal interview and a tour of campus facilities. Many colleges now enable students to register for visits on their websites. Most schools offer tours and group information sessions, while others may offer personal interviews. If you are interested in a particular major and have questions, you might wish to request to sit in on a class and/or meet with a faculty member. At a few colleges, typically the most competitive schools, you may need to schedule an interview several months in advance. Some highly selective schools will not be able to grant a personal interview; they rely on alumnae/alumni interviews which are often arranged after an application is on file.
While the trend at colleges and universities is away from the once all-important personal interview and toward a more relaxed, general information meeting, some colleges still require an interview, some recommend it (which is an offer students should not refuse), and still others leave it up to the applicant. We strongly recommend that you schedule an interview if it is an option. College interviews are a great opportunity for the college to learn more about you and for you to learn more about the college. An interview can prove crucial when the decision hangs in the balance.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Arrive promptly, dressed comfortably, but neat.
- Conduct yourself in a friendly, inquisitive, and interested manner.
- While it is not necessary, feel free to bring your parents: they too may have questions.
- Don’t be unduly influenced by a personality: avoid being overly impressed by a super salesperson, and don’t be turned off by an unimpressive admissions officer.
- Be sure to prepare in advance a list of questions to ask about the school.
- Avoid asking questions that can be readily answered by reading the catalog.
- Take this opportunity to discuss IB: while there is a growing awareness, not all admissions counselors are IB savvy.