If you are in the process of deciding where to go to college, then you need to make sure that you visit the campuses of those colleges that interest you. You won’t get much of an idea about the college by just reading their website or flipping through a few pamphlets. There are numerous questions you need to ask yourself as you are deciding which college you want to attend. Just a few of those questions are:
- What are the classes like? Do I have options between lecture, hands-on learning, and blended or online learning?
- What is the campus like? What kinds of facilities are available to me?
- What are the faculty and staff members like? Are they approachable?
- Do you know if you want to live on campus or commute? This decision will affect which college you are able to choose since not all colleges offer dormitory space.
- Does the college offer the program of study that you are interested in taking? You don’t want to waste your time visiting a school that doesn’t offer Engineering if you want to be an engineer.
The following are ten things to look for at a college that many prospective students don’t do.
- Visit during the academic year? Maybe – Visiting a residential college campus during the summer isn’t the best idea because most students will be taking the summer off so you won’t get an accurate feel for campus life. However, if you are planning to attend a commuter college (a college without dorms), visiting during the summer may still give you a pretty good idea of what life is like there. Yes, some students do take the summer off, but many still attend classes in the summer. Colleges geared to commuter students often try to design their summer schedules in a way that allows students to enjoy some time off. For example, they may offer classes only Monday through Thursday so you get three-day weekends all summer.
- Don’t break away from the tour – Yes, the official college tour is meant to show you the best that the college has to offer. But most colleges don’t mind if you wander around on your own after the tour is over. Take the tour so that you get “the lay of the land,” but then explore the campus on your own. This will give you a much better idea of what the campus and the students are like. You can also ask to go back to areas of interest after the tour is over.
- Eat lunch in the cafeteria – Eating at the cafeteria allows you to try out the food, review the menu, learn about things like daily specials, and check out the prices. It’s also a great chance to see what other options are available to you. You can also see how the students interact with one another.
- Sit in on a class – The tour may take you by a few classes, but you won’t know what a class is actually like unless you sit in on one. Call the college in advance to schedule a visit for a class in your major (if you’ve decided on one). Stay behind after the class ends and talk to the students about their classroom experiences. Be sure to speak to the instructor as well. (You do want to schedule this experience so you can be sure that you are not going to a class that is having an exam that day!)
- Meet with an instructor – If you know what major or program interests you, ask if you can meet with an instructor from the program. Speaking to an instructor is a great way to find out more about your major, from class sizes to graduation requirements.
- Speak with enrolled students – The best way to get an unbiased view on the education as well as life on campus is by speaking with the students themselves. Be sure to ask about the negatives as well as the positives for a balanced opinion. This is another great reason to visit the cafeteria or wander around the campus.
- Visit the Library – The tour will give you a quick peak at the Library, but feel free to go back. Librarians are always happy to share information about the resources and services the Library provides to students and to answer any questions that you may have.
- Read the bulletin boards – This is an easy way to find out what kinds of activities and events happen on campus. You will probably find bulletin boards that focus on specific programs, offices, or campus services.
- Read the college, department, or program newsletters – Reading these newsletters is a great way to find out about some of the issues that students or the college are dealing with as well as resources and services that are available for you to use as a student.
- Ask to meet counselors or advisors – Most colleges now provide counselors or advisors to assist students through their academic experience. Ask if you can meet with one for a few minutes to learn about the specific services that they offer. You may even be able to meet with the one who will be your counselor.
BONUS TIP: Check to see if the college is having an Open House. You may still want to go back for another visit, but the Open House will give you a chance to make initial contact and gain basic information in a short period of time.
Use these tips to get a better idea of the college experience when you visit the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology or any other college. Interested in receiving more information or scheduling a tour? Stop by or click here.