One of the frequent questions I get asked by parents and students is “Do I really have to go visit the campus?” With most colleges offering full multi-media presentations on their websites, including virtual tours, it may seem like a waste of time to visit the campus itself, especially when consider an out-of-state or remote college.
Here’s why college campus visits still make sense:
Videos May Not Tell the Whole Story
Keep in mind that the virtual tour you watch has likely been shot in ideal circumstances and edited to show the campus to its best advantage. What the video may not show is crowded study space at the library, long line-ups at the cafeteria or book store, or poorly maintained classroom spaces. Similarly, you may see something in the video that worries you, such as ongoing construction in the background, only to find on your visit that it’s no longer a concern.
You Need to See More Than the Campus
Unless your child is planning on living in residence and will never set foot off campus except to go home at Christmas (rarely the case), you and your child will want to get to know the residential and commercial area around the college. Is the area safe? What are the transit options? Is there easy access to a local bank/grocery store/pharmacy, etc? Your child will be spending the next several years living in this area; take the moment to consider if the general community is a good fit.
It Goes Both Ways
It isn’t just that students should go to campus visits to see the campus; it’s that the campus visits give admission staff a chance to see the students. Your child has a golden opportunity to meet with upper-year students in the same program and ask questions, or to be introduced to professors and make a positive first impression. Demonstrating interest and enthusiasm during a campus visit can be a key factor in the college admissions process later on.
Campus visits may be time consuming, especially if you haven’t narrowed down your focus to a short list of top-choice colleges, however it’s invaluable for making the decision as to what college is best for you.