Making the most of your US university visit

Key tips you should keep in mind when embarking on these tours

By Hishaan Mahtani

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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 6:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 9:22 PM

During your journey to higher education, one of the most important components during the college selection process is finding out which university instills in you a sense of home and belonging. While this is easier said than done, taking part in campus tours and interacting with current students can provide significant perspective on whether you foresee yourself spending the next four years at a particular university. As a result, here are the three main objectives you should aim to complete when taking the time to visit a university’s campus:

●Attend an official information session and tour prior to exploring the campus yourself

●Talk to current students

●Introduce yourself to Admission Officers

First and foremost, it goes without saying that formal campus information sessions and tours are an integral part of the college visit process. Usually requiring online registration beforehand, an information session conducted by an Admission Officer precedes a campus tour led by a current student, providing you with a comprehensive overview of the university’s unique characteristics and facilities. This may include viewing labs and institutes that align with your intended major, or hearing relevant information about the school’s tradition and ethos. These are factors that will help you when interviewing with the school, or writing your supplemental essay on why the university is a good fit for you. This is also your opportunity to learn about various academic departments, the local community, campus culture, and discover the types of clubs and organizations offered on campus. Beyond dorms, libraries and dining halls, this tour should also address campus safety and other quality of life factors that you cannot glean from a university’s website. After this tour is over, it is a good idea to explore the campus individually and truly see if you resonate with your surroundings.

Talking to current students is also highly recommended, not only because you can (and should) ask them questions that you do not want to ask admissions officers, but also because you can better gauge student life by hearing their perspectives. Perhaps most importantly, you should also make sure to introduce yourself to the admissions office. One of the primary reasons for this is that many colleges track whether prospective students make an in-person visit to campus and make note of their interest, which plays a role in many admission decisions. To ensure you have demonstrated interest, it would be wise to introduce yourself to whoever is present in the admissions office and start a conversation regarding your specific interest in the school (such as what you plan on studying and what you particularly like about the undergraduate program). You should also collect contact details so you can send them a brief thank-you email if they have been particularly helpful. This may prove to be a useful contact in case you have more questions later. The admissions office is also an ideal place to find out about any financial aid or scholarship information that you may be curious to learn about.

Before you start your college visits, here are three key tips you should keep in mind when embarking on these tours:

●Save your favorite colleges until the end of your visit

●Do not pressure yourself to rush judgment on a university

●Do not judge a university solely on the experience with the campus tour guide

As you progress through your college visits, you will get better at asking questions and gauging all aspects of campus life, focusing on the most qualitative elements of the university experience. Therefore, make it a point to visit your top choices at the end, providing you with the ability to make the most of your visit to your favorite college.

Finally, make sure to take your time when evaluating a university. For example, do not rush into deciding whether the university is for you based on one student encounter or one impressive sports center. The ultimate decision of where you will study is one that must be made diligently as it will impact the course of your future. Do not put too much pressure on your college visits - remember that this is the most exciting part of the journey before college (especially when compared to standardized tests and essay writing).

Enjoy the experience and exploration as best as you can!

The writer is an Educational Consultant with Hale Education Group.

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