Most college-bound students can’t afford to visit every prospective school. That’s why colleges and universities offer digital ways to address students’ pre-enrollment questions. Virtual tours give students a feel for the physical campus, while interactive chat rooms, message boards, and other means of electronic communication allow students to get to know their future peers and faculty members. Here are a few important things to consider as you digitally explore potential schools.
1. Find a “Point Person”
When previewing a prospective college or university, start by getting in touch with an admissions representative. Request that they send you information (either electronically or via postal mail) on your new campus as well as your chosen program. Maintain regular communication with your contact person as questions arise.
2. Peruse Housing Options
Housing is a major consideration for every college student. If you’re staying on campus, find out if the university offers virtual tours of the dorms. If a v-tour is unavailable, prepare a list of questions to ask: How big is each unit? Are they single-sex or co-ed? How far is the walk to campus? What is public transportation like? These questions—along with rent and utility queries—also apply to students seeking private rentals. The more you know about your accommodations up front, the quicker you will adjust once you arrive.
3. Make a Safety Plan
An alert student is a safe one. Get valuable safety tips—like where to find emergency call buttons on campus or how to report suspicious activity—from each school’s Web site as well as faculty members, fellow students, and the campus’s department of public safety. General crime reports and statistics are usually made public by all universities—check with your contact person if you have trouble finding this information.
Health goes hand-in-hand with safety, so go online to explore your campus’s health services. Find out what’s offered and how closely your school’s medical staff works with local hospitals and specialists to ensure the holistic wellness of students.
4. “Meet” Your Instructors
Take advantage of expanding technology by communicating with faculty and advisors from your school(s) of choice months prior to enrolling. Learn about their program offerings, study abroad opportunities, and typical classroom settings. You can also get a feel for the reputation of a specific department and find out what classes you’ll need to take for your major.
5. Get Social
Fellow students sometimes offer the best insight into college life. Where can you find the cheapest groceries? Which classes should you avoid? Where should you go if you want to see live music or fine art? Most students are happy to offer advice, and by making connections early on, via e-mail or a college-centered social network such as www.CollegeConfidential.com, you can get a good idea of what to expect.