Visit Smart

EdSeero_120 Ed Seero, senior assistant director of Admissions, UMass Lowell,
offers this advice to high school students as they begin their college

While a college visit might be the most necessary
part of the college search, students should keep their visit list to a
reasonable level. If you make good decisions in researching and
developing your list, you will be making visits to the places you are
seriously considering.     

You take a big risk if you never visit a college before you enroll.
Often students pare down lists or make a final decision about where
they will enroll based on a feeling they get when visiting. Even the
most thorough college search cannot produce that feeling. You can only
get that feeling from a visit.

Visit Twice, Choose Once

a school is within reasonable driving distance, it may be a good idea
to visit campus multiple times. Beyond the admissions tour, you can get
a sense of what a typical day looks like around campus, check out an
athletic event, a concert, a speaker series, pay to eat a meal in the
cafeteria, or all of those things. The more times you visit a campus,
the better feel you will get for a school.        

If you can
only visit a campus once, the best time is either the spring of junior
year or the fall of senior year of high school. A summer visit is not a
complete representation of a campus. Most colleges and universities
will not have a lot of students on campus, and some schools will be
undergoing construction or renovations. This is a different experience
from the spring or fall, when there are actually students on campus
going about their daily routines.   

Know Where You’re Going Before You Get There

on the student’s part will help you get the most from your visit.
Although it’s great if a parent is well informed, the parent is not the
one who will be enrolling. Students should know as much as they can
about a school before visiting so they can have specific questions to
ask the tour guide, the admissions counselor, the coach, marching band
director, academic adviser, department chair or other person relevant
to the student’s major interest. Consider planning your visit around
these significant people and find an admissions tour that fits into
that schedule.

While you’re in the area, check out the
surrounding community’s shopping malls, outdoor recreation spots or
other features important to you. 


Kathie Dickenson edited this post for SmartCollegeVisit. She is an award-winning higher-education writer and editor and a regular contributor to SmartCollegeVisit.