College: it’s something a lot of us have dreamed about, planned for, and looked up to for years. Determining which college to commit to is a big decision. With an increasing amount of factors such as cost, location, majors, and extracurriculars to consider, the process of picking the perfect school for you is more complicated than ever. A university’s campus can be another great indicator of whether or not you can see yourself calling a school home for the next four years. Though campus visits are extremely important to the college search process, many prospective students limit their visits to just a few of their top-choice schools. But campus visits are a great way to get a feel for college in general. That’s why it’s important to visit more than the top three schools you started aiming for as a high school freshman. Now that more campuses are opening back up for in-person tours, here are some reasons why you should visit more college campuses than you think.
Your perspectives might change
A common reason why students want to attend a certain college is because of the way they’ve always perceived it. Do you want to go to Harvard? Why? “It just seems so academically challenging and rewarding!”—“seems” being the operative word here. When pushed into the labyrinth of the college search process as freshmen, a student’s college list is more often than not based on notions of prestige and academic excellence that, though sometimes true, are not a valid indication of whether a school is a good fit for them. Even when buying a chair, you should sit on and test out as many as possible before deciding which one fits your budget, comfort, etc. If a piece of furniture calls for this much consideration, what about college? It’s the next big step in your academic career, and for that simple reason, it’s important that you go and see different schools for yourself instead of banking on opinions from a friend, blog, or YouTube video. Your decision, your perception.
Related: Why Are Campus Visits So Important?
You could find a better network elsewhere
A big perk of visiting colleges is interacting with faculty members, students, and department specialists. Often students fall in love with a school due to the connections they make with the people there. Speaking to people on campus can provide a sense of the general mentality and personality of the college’s student body. Therefore, you can determine whether you could see yourself making friends and fitting in. In addition to better understanding the social scene at a college, visiting campus and speaking to professors and alumni can provide an idea of how the academic structure and environment are and if they suit your educational interests and needs. Students often go through college thinking it’s an “individual” experience, which, to a certain extent, it is. However, your undergraduate journey, both personally and academically, is greatly impacted by the people you spend it with. So it’s a great idea to visit campuses and meet people from colleges that aren’t necessarily your top choice because, who knows—you may fall in love with the connections you make there.
You may not get accepted to your top-choice school
Even after all this deliberation, the most important part of the college scouting process is acceptance. In order to attend college, you obviously need to be accepted first. Despite the years of hard work some students put toward their dream schools, the harsh reality is that college admission is getting more and more selective each year as an increasing number of students actually pursue higher education. With this intense competition, prospective students are unfortunately most likely to not even be accepted to their top-choice, typically selective schools. Facing this truth, it’s important to mentally expand your possible university experience by visiting your target and safety schools as well. These institutions may be more than eager to have you be part of their student body.
As we all know, college is a huge chapter in a student’s life, and it’s preferred that you make no haste or mistakes in choosing the right school for you. Though aiming for your dream college is an amazing way to chase your age-old academic dreams, considering things such as student body, networking, and your personal acceptances are just a few reasons why visiting campuses beyond your top choice can help you in the long run. Often when you visit a campus, you get a gut feeling telling you whether it’s the place for you or not. That instinct isn’t something you can get from fawning over Instagram pictures, poring over magazines, or watching Rory Gilmore go to Yale. So get out there and see what other schools offer, even if they’re at the bottom of your list. You may end up finding your new dream school.
Wondering what other college options are out there? Find great schools you’ve probably never heard of with our lists of “hidden gem” colleges in each state!