The College Visit. It’s a rite of passage for many students, and it’s also the best way to really get a feel for the campus and determine if a school is the right fit. It is also the best way to demonstrate your curiosity to a college, something that has become much more important in college admissions in recent years. If you’re only looking at schools inside a couple of hours’ drive from home, you can and should visit. But imagine if you are looking at schools on the other side of the country? Unless you have unlimited resources, a campus visit isn’t always practical. So how do you effectively research a college without actually visiting the campus?
Get on the Internet
The web is really a powerful tool for this kind of research. By using the Internet, you can take advantage of campus events, student blogs, virtual trips, course listings, internship listings, on the web chats, and more. Start with the admissions section on a college website, but go beyond that—check out various other pages of interest, like student night clubs and organizations, academic departments plus faculty. You can even read the on the web version of the student newspaper and other publications.
Hit the books
While there are a lot of great college search resources online, don’t overlook guidebooks, which can also be effective tools to help you start your research. Inside my work counseling students, I frequently turn to the Fiske Guide to Colleges and The Princeton Review’s The Best 365 Colleges. Both gather information such as score ranges, size and place, but , more importantly, they also provide students’ perspective and insights. Try to purchase the latest version of the guides to ensure you are working with the most current information. Plus remember—you may see differences of viewpoint in college guidebooks. Never depend on one source for accurate details, especially when reviewing the ratings of departments within a college. Instead, evaluate sources to look for trends in the details you are gathering.
Let them come to you
Can’t discuss with an admissions officer on campus? Don’t worry—it’s a pretty safe bet that you will have the opportunity to see them by yourself turf during their recruitment travel season. When I proved helpful in college admissions , I was on the road from early September in order to before Thanksgiving meeting with students plus parents at high schools, university fairs and college planning occasions, attending prospective student receptions, and even conducting student interviews. Check the college’s admissions website to find your regional representative; very often they will post their own schedule of visits and occasions, so you can find out when they are coming to you. And it’s a great idea to ensure you’re on their mailing list–that way they can contact you when they’re going to be in your area.
Reach out to others
Alumni networks and current students in your area are two more resources you can tap into to round out your perspective. Talk with them to get firsthand, anecdotal information about their own experiences.
While there’s no ideal substitute for an in-person campus visit, you can still get a lot of valuable information to help you create your college list through some in depth research. Delighted hunting!