Do a campus visit right

May 30, 2012

Visiting a college campus as a high school student is one of the more thrilling parts of your path toward higher education. You'll wander some of the most beautiful campuses in the world. It gives you an exciting and often intimidating glimpse into the world of college life - a world filled with studying, classes, piles of books and glorious independence.

So while you're college hopping, whether in your home state or on the opposite coast, make sure you do it right. Consider these tips for getting the most out of your campus visit.

1. Keep an open mind. Yes, first impressions matter, but very few of our best friends seemed all that close or compatible when we first met them. A drop-dead gorgeous line of dorms might make up for a science building the size of a shed, or a snooty tour guide might give way to a warm and friendly admissions counselor.

2. Interview whenever possible. This is good for you and the college. Interviews will broaden your understanding of the school both academically and socially, while it will give the folks in the admissions department an idea as to what kind of candidate you'd be for their student body.

3. Sit in on a class whenever possible. Parties will be great, but you're going to college for the education after all. Sit in on a class, and while you should keep tip #1 in mind - note how students and faculty interact and consider how you feel about lectures as opposed to semnars. Different schools will also offer a variety of faculty-student ratios.

4. Call ahead. Summer is the season for campus tours, so make sure you call ahead and schedule time with an individual guide or a group, otherwise you might end up waiting hours. And speaking of summer...

5. Consider a summer tour. With the exceptions of spring and Thanksgiving breaks, it's hard to get away long enough to check out some of those distant colleges. If you can plan a summer tour before your senior year of high school, you'll be taking a lot of the stress off decisions come November and December. There's no better way to get a feel for a school than to see it in person.

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