A personal visit to a post-secondary institution is often the most useful step in helping students and their parents decide whether or not to apply to a particular school. Students are encouraged to make use of group tours, open house events and group information sessions as a way of obtaining first-hand impressions of schools.
Visits during the regular academic year provide a more accurate view of the academic and social life of a campus, but families often make use of summer vacation to visit several schools that are at a distance. Where possible, it is a good idea to avoid the distortions of the days of registration, final exams and special campus events such as homecomings or festivals. Several high school holidays such as Columbus Day weekend or Veterans Day allow students who visit colleges to minimize the disruption to their own academic program. Typically students visit colleges either in the spring of the junior year, during the summer before senior year or in the fall of the senior year.
Questions to Ask
Who teaches freshman courses? Graduate assistants or permanent staff?
What is the average class size for first-year students and introductory courses?
Which departments are strongest? Will they be truthful?
To what extent is there interaction between faculty and students?
How good are the library facilities? How many volumes are available and what technology and support are available?
What cultural opportunities are available in the community?
For what reasons did the students choose that particular college?
What is the make-up of the student body? Are there a number of foreign students and students from all over the U.S.?
What types of financial aid are available?
If the college is co-educational, what is the ratio of men to women?
How complete are infirmary and health facilities?
Is there a professional counseling service available for career planning and personal concerns? Faculty advisor?
How active and effective is student government?
How strong is school spirit? What activities are offered to encourage school spirit?
What are the opportunities for participating in intercollegiate or intramural sports?
What type of housing is available to first-year students?
How are roommates chosen?
Is campus security an area of concern to students or faculty?
What is the return rate for second-year students? How many of the original freshman graduate?