There's an old saying that goes "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." That's certainly true when it comes to the college visit. For the school, it's often a make or break opportunity. The story below comes from Susan in South Carolina.
I took my daughter to visit two universities. One was a 4-year, out of state school, approximately 2.5 hours away and the other a local 4-year school. The visit was revealing. Although both schools were on beautiful campuses and were known for the major my daughter wanted to pursue, the similarities ended there.
At the out of state school, the staff was not friendly, their overview movie didn't work. We sat in a room with 20-plus other families but no one spoke to us why they were scrambling to get the video to work (it never did) and they had to call the students who failed to show up to give the tour. Other than the tour guide, we did not interact with any students or participate in any other activities. We saw old buildings which were not updated and a tiny dorm room. The one faculty member we spoke with briefly in the major was not optimistic about the program or the school. I felt like an unexpected, unwelcome intruder.
At the other school, the red carpet was rolled out. Students were welcomed with a banner, multiple student interaction, question and answer opportunities. We had time with administration and students, and the school and room tour. The movie that worked and the campus had been readied for our arrival.
The price tag on the sloppily presented school is 10K less than the other school. The visits flipped my daughter's first and second place choices. I can't emphasize enough the importance of a campus visit!