College admissions representatives agree: except where a visit is impossible, no student should select a college without having spent some time on the campus. At most colleges and universities, an interview is highly desirable and sometimes required. To help in this area, Mohonasen offers some general tips, sample questions to ask on your college visits and a checklist you can print out and bring along to help direct your visits and record what you see and find out about each college.
- Call in advance for an appointment with the Admissions Office. Tours are often available for visiting students and parents. Try to include a stop at the college’s financial aid office during your visit. Call the financial aid office in advance as well.
- Allow enough time. Make sure to give each school at least half a day or don’t bother. You simply can’t do a visit justice in less time.
- Before you go, reread the catalog, especially the sections on admission requirements, tuition, programs of study, and scholarships. This prevents you from asking questions that are clearly answered in the catalog. Do a little homework before your interview. Show that you have done some serious thinking and reading about this particular college. Do some reading about some of the majors that attract you to this college. Don’t be afraid to come with a list of written questions.
- Be on time, dress appropriately.
- Take along a copy of your high school transcript. Obtain an unofficial copy from your counselor several days in advance.
- Take good notes. (See checklist below.) Don’t trust anything to memory, especially if you’re planning on visiting a number of colleges. Even if you don’t take notes during the visit, write your thoughts down while the experience is still fresh in your mind.
- Do an interview. Even if it’s optional, set one up. It’s an opportunity to interview the school. Interviews are rarely available to walk-ins, so book the interview when confirming your campus visit.
- Do feel free to ask for some estimate of your chances for admission, but don’t except any firm commitment at this time. Ask yourself, “What can I do to enhance my chances?”
- Get lost! Venture to where the real action is. Talk to students. Sit in on a class. Eat in the cafeteria. Parents and teens might want to separate for a an hour or two to explore.
- Be realistic. Seek comfort, not perfection. Before you leave the campus, take a last glance around and ask “Would I feel comfortable here?”
Sample questions for college visits and interviews
- How competitive is the admissions picture? Do my abilities match admissions standards?
- Are there some unique or outstanding courses/ professors at this college in the field I’m considering?
- What percentage of students is enrolled in my major field as compared with other majors? How many degrees were awarded last year in my major?
- What are the future employment possibilities for graduates in my major? What percent were placed in the same area as their college study? What percent of those that applied were accepted to graduate school (within my major)?
- How does the placement office serve students?
- Will representatives from this college be visiting our high school?
- What are the advantages of early decision at your college? Early action? Are they binding?
- Which forms do you use for financial analysis? Is your college need blind?
- What percentage of your students leave campus on weekends? Is bus, train or air easily accessible for travel?
- What special attractions are offered in the city in which the college/ university is located?
- What is the general atmosphere of the campus? Peaceful? Isolated? Preppy? Politically active? Are there many social events? Organized sports?
- Is this school generally regarded as safe/crime-free? What about the surrounding city/town?
- Can I arrange to talk to department chairpeople or faculty members about my major? Are dorm overnights possible?
Sample checklist when visiting a college campus:
(From: How to plan for College 1992, EIS, Inc.)
The best way to see if you’ll “fit-in” at a college is to visit it in person. Print out one checklist (below) for each college you plan to visit and bring it with you so you won’t forget to see everything you should. Some general tips:
- Go with your parents;
- Visit the campus when classes are in session, so that you can sit in on some classes and speak with students and faculty; and
- Allow at least three to five hours per campus.
Check the things below that you want to try to “cover” on your visit and you’ll have a more productive visit! Don’t forget to take lots of notes!
- Date of Visit
- Tour Time/Place
- Parking Permit Needed?
Places to Visit and/or Look for Information:
- Student center/ hangouts
- Bulletin boards on campus
- Admissions office
- Dining facilities
- Career placement office
- Off-campus stores
- Local community
- School/ community Papers
- Events calendar
- Campus map
- Places of worship
- Health center
My Overall Reaction to This College:
- ______ Better than before I visited
- ______ About the same as before I visited
- ______ Not as good as before I visited
Academic Items to Evaluate:
- Class quality
- Class size
- Freshman orientation program(s)
- Academic advisers for students
- Work load
Housing Items to Evaluate:
- Dorms (quality, neighborhood, security, noise level)
- Off campus (quality, neighborhood, security, noise level)
Eating Items to Evaluate:
- Dining hall (quality of food, cleanliness, nutrition, variety)
- Alcohol on campus
- Local restaurants
- Special diet availability
Facilities to Evaluate:
- Health center
- Special services
- Student center
- Classroom size (lighting and condition)
- Fraternity/ sorority houses
- Counseling services
- Placement office
- Disability access/facilities
Sports Items to Evaluate:
- Track(s)-Indoor/ Outdoor
- Skating/Hockey rink
- Open spaces for jogging, Frisbee, etc.
- Tennis courts
- Intramural sports
- Intercollegiate sports
Community/Area to Evaluate:
- Overall impression
- Presence of crime
- Other colleges nearby
- Local entertainment
- Relationship with college
- Transportation to/ from campus
Library Items to Evaluate:
- Study rooms/areas
- Comfort areas
Computer Facilities to Evaluate:
- Number of PC’s
- Hours accessible
- Software available
- Knowledgeable assistance
- Number of printers
- Network availability
- Fees for computer use
Impression of Students:
- Academic attitudes
- Results from conversations
Impressions of Faculty:
- Teaching styles