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10 Things to See and Do on a College Visit

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When visiting campus, make sure you check out these common college hotspots.

Venturing out to campus after campus may seem like a drag now, but campus visits can make all the difference in helping you make the right college choice. So strap on your walking shoes and hit the road.

10. Quad and hangout hotspots

You can’t make friends holed up in your dorm room. That’s why colleges and universities offer quads and other comparable hangout spots. This could be as simple as a nice lawn to read on or an open area to play football or Frisbee. And rest assured, even urban schools have common campus hangouts! If such an area doesn’t exist—or if it does and there’s nobody there, this might be a school you want to rethink. You’ll be surprised how important little things like playing catch with your buddies in between classes will factor into your enjoyment of school.

9. Dorms

When you’re not in the classroom or grabbing a bite in the cafeteria, there is a pretty good chance you’ll be in your dorm room. While you’re visiting the campus, ask to see the freshman dorms and upperclassman dorms as well. Freshman dorms will almost always be the least impressive digs on campus, but those double and triple shared rooms are part of the freshman experience! That being said, you want to make sure you’ll be moving on up as you progress in class years. Upperclassmen often have access to suite or apartment-style housing.

8. Dining halls

The dining hall is the simplest and most efficient way to eat on campus, and with all the studying you’ll be doing, you generally won’t have time to prepare yourself a nice lunch or dinner. The average student will eat at the cafeteria twice a day; it’s possible you go less often, but it’s likely you go even more than that, whether for a snack or late-night meal. Check for cleanliness, the variety of quality foods, and accessibility. If the campus is big, it may have multiple dining halls, so make sure you see them all.

7. Classrooms

If you think you can ace exams without ever going to class, think again. Not only do you need to go to class once in a while to make sure you’re up to speed with what’s going on with exams and homework, but a lot of smaller classes also base some of their grades on participation. Granted, you can miss class once in a while, but don’t forget that attendance is often mandatory. Make sure that you like the classroom setting of the school you’re visiting too. Are the classes big or small? Are classrooms flat or stadium-style? Is the technology adequate, or better yet, very advanced? Will you be a nameless face or someone your teacher will be able to interact with?

6. Admission office . . . for an interview!

While you’re on your campus visit, why not put a face to your application? Make an appointment to meet with an admission counselor so that they can get to know you as more than a list of test scores and activities. This is your chance to show your personality, and you can even use the time to ask any questions that you might still have about the school. Just be sure that you’re friendly, polite, and articulate, because the first impression is a lasting one.

5. Health center

If you’re lucky, you won’t spend much time in the campus health center. However, should you get sick or injured and are in need of anything from emergency care to DayQuil, it’s always reassuring to know you have access to medical care and technology.

4. Gym/on-campus athletic facilities

Most universities offer some sort of athletic facilities. Sometimes, those facilities are just as good, if not better than, professional gyms! So if you’re interested in getting into or staying in shape, make sure your college has a state-of-the-art gym. And if you’re into college athletics, the school’s on-campus fields and other facilities are also something you should check out. The games on campus can be a pretty big draw, and even if you’re not a huge sports fan they double as a popular social event.

3. Office of your department chair

If you have any inkling whatsoever about what your major in college might be, you should try to make an appointment to meet briefly with the department chair during your campus visit. The chairperson will be thrilled to meet a potential major, and you’ll get some valuable insight into the courses you’d take, professors you’d study under, and academic opportunities that your school and potential major will offer. Don’t hesitate to schedule several of these meetings, especially if you’re unsure about your potential major.

2. Bookstore

If you are the first child in your family to attend college, you should prepare to dissociate yourself from your parents upon entering the bookstore. As soon as mom or dad spies a price tag on a textbook, they may react with surprise, anger, disbelief, tears, or any combination of the above. After they’ve calmed down, reassure them that you already set up accounts on Amazon, Textbooks.com, and Half.com, and convince them that your prudence and frugality should earn you one of those nice college hoodies from the bookstore. Just don’t show them the receipt.

1. Talk to students

This may be the most important part of a campus visit, and an opportunity that too many college-bound students do not take advantage of. If you visit colleges while school is in session, you should make a point to approach a few students—at the cafeteria, the library, or just while walking around campus—and ask them any questions you have or even just about their general experience at the school. You’ll get much more honest answers than you will from tour guides, and most students will be more than happy to stop and chat for a few minutes.

Article courtesy of CampusCompare.com.

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