Visit Colleges Now, Avoid Headaches Later

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of schools to a few top choices, the most important factor in your decision of where to spend the next four years could depend on one thing — your college visits.

Visiting campuses gives you a picture of what your life at a certain school would be like, and turns your list of schools into more than just a collection of brochures and newsletters.

Choosing a college based on reputation alone could lead to some very unpleasant surprises on move-in day.

Visiting your top choices will be well worth the time and money you put into making the trips; a campus visit will give you a chance to see if a school is the right fit for you.

Never underestimate the importance of first-hand experience when it comes to making the right decision.

Before you start visiting campuses, there are some things you can do to prepare:

  • Before You Go…

Though you can only get so much information doing research on a school, it’s important to be prepared for your campus visits.

Here’s some things you can do before you go…

  • Make a checklist of the things you want to see or do. Keep your information on different schools separate so you can keep them straight later.
  • Plan to eat at a restaurant on the main street on each campus or catch a guest speaker.
  • Consider spending the night to get a complete picture of the campus — is the social life what you had imagined?
  • When You’re There

On your visit, do your best to imagine yourself as part of the campus community — do more than just the walking tour of campus.

Take the time to visit all the spots that a student goes to in a given week — the libraries, the campus buildings, the main streets on campus.

Visit a dorm and eat in the dining hall, sit in on a lecture, and pick up a copy of the student newspaper.

Talking to your tour guide is great, but try to get other opinions of the school as well.

Ask students what they like and don’t like…

  • What they do for fun,
  • What they wish they had known before attending the school, and
  • Whether they think they made the right decision…
  • Back at Home

On top of it all, pay attention to your gut…

  • Did you feel comfortable walking around campus?
  • Did you jive well with the students?
  • Could you see yourself as part of the community?

After you visit a few schools, look back on everything you collected on the visit and think about which one stood out from the rest.

Imagine each college visit as a test drive — it can guide you toward making the right choice and steer you away of making the wrong one.

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Selma Haveric

Selma Haveric

Selma Haveric is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying journalism and Spanish. When she’s not studying, she loves reading, traveling and bike riding. She’s currently deciding whether to go to law school or to postpone her studies for a year and teach English in Spain.
Selma Haveric

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