Students Benefit From College Visits

Emma Barr, Staff Writer

After taking the October PSAT, a flurry of college pamphlets arrive at high school juniors’ doors. Although these glossy pictures of brick buildings and white columns entice prospective students, nothing compares to the gut feeling one gets when they step on the campus for a college visit.

Few people would consider buying a house or a car without seeing it first. Selecting a college is a huge financial choice and an even more substantial life decision. There’s nothing like the feeling one gets when stepping on to a college campus and talking face-to-face with the people who make up the community. The campus visit is one of the most important and enjoyable parts of the college application process.

Visiting colleges you want to apply to even helps in the application process. After visiting a college, students can easily refer back to their experience in completing their application. The level of detail and specifics can demonstrate how serious the student’s commitment is to this particular college.

For colleges, a campus visit is the most important sign that an applicant is seriously interested, and there are times when that expression of interest can make the difference between acceptance and rejection. All colleges prefer to admit students who are likely to accept their offers of admission.

“There’s no such thing as a failed college visit because it helps eliminate what you don’t like. High school students often get in their head that there are only a few places where they could be happy and succeed but there are so many great schools. College visits help you figure out what you want out of your college experience,” college adviser in private practice, Kate Newman said.

College visits are time consuming and travel can be costly, causing some students to shy away from tours. “I would only tour a school once I’ve been accepted,” senior Tori Wong said. Although college visits require a time commitment, the experience is priceless and helps determine what aspects of a college makes the prospective student feel most comfortable. Occasionally, students think a school is perfect for them, only to visit and realize it’s not at all what they expected.

Senior Jane Fessenden made several visits to Massachusetts Institute of Technology before making her eventual decision to attend. “At first I was kind of worried that MIT played to its “nerd” stereotype but when I went there it was just like any other college but cooler. Visiting really did help me make my eventual choice. It’s a beautiful campus and I just really liked the atmosphere there,” Fessenden said.

Brochures, catalogs, presentations by college representatives, guidance counselors, and videos can help one form an opinion of a school, but a visit allows you to see first hand the environment and evaluate the academics, athletics, housing, and the social life of that school.

“I think the best thing about college visits is getting to see the students. Most students are happy to talk about their college, and if they are not, that should be a pretty serious warning sign. You learn the most by looking at the kids and seeing if they look like they’re happy and talking to other students. There are dozens of pretty campuses but it won’t feel like home unless you’re around people you like,” senior Julia Duncan said.

Seeing a campus in person offers the best college decision insight of all. It’s better to find out a school is not the right fit before you arrive in the fall with your bags and books in hand.