Seeing Beyond the College Brochure

Don't just rely on Web sites and literature—experience campus for yourself

You will spend countless hours in and around the school you choose to attend, so it is important to investigate the community, the opportunities, and the places you will call home for the next few years.

Schools encourage prospective students to visit their campus and make it easy for you to visit any time of year. To observe the campus in action, the best time to visit is when school is in session (mid-August to mid-May). However, there may be other opportunities to visit during the summer or for an Open House. Summer visits are usually more leisurely. Open houses or other special event days cater to prospective students and usually offer immediate contact with admissions counselors, coaches, professors, and current students.

No matter when you plan to visit, it is best to register for an event or contact the admissions office to notify them you will be on campus. This way you can make the most of your experience and possibly meet with an admissions counselor or current students.

Once you arrive on campus, you should take note of your surroundings. The buildings, athletic facilities, living facilities, and location may be important to you but also pay attention to the people. The people you interact with on a daily basis will make the strongest impact on your college happiness.

Anatomy of a Campus Visit

A regular campus visit usually has three parts: an information session, a campus tour, and an interview. Many universities start by giving you a general perspective of the school through an information session. This session will cover the student population, academic life, student life, and the admissions process. There will also be time for you to ask questions.

Campus tours are usually guided by a current student, so it is a great time to get a student’s perspective of the school. Tour guides will be happy to discuss what it is like to sit in a class, live on campus, or interact with faculty. They will also be willing to answer any questions.

Some schools require or encourage an interview. This is a great time to share information about yourself that may not be noted on your application. It is also a chance to express your interest in the college.

Review Your Notes

After visiting each school, it may be helpful to take notes about what you saw, who you met, what you liked, and what you did not like. If you visit several campuses, your notes will help you keep schools straight and may even help you make a decision about what school is right for you.


This article was written by Ann Bezbatchenko

Ann Bezbatchenko earned a master's degree from The Catholic University of America, where she worked as the assistant director of graduate admissions. She currently works for Loyola University Chicago as the director of graduate and professional enrollment management.

1 Comment

  1. Betty Boop

    When you get to the question and answer session, ask very specifically what percentage of the school’s classes are taught by fulltime, tenured faculty, as opposed to adjuncts (hourly, transient teachers) or grad assistants/teaching assistants. If the school doesn’t show a strong commitment to faculty, they are spending your hard-earned money on things other than teaching and instruction. Yes, even many high-cost private schools are skimping on hiring fulltime teachers to save money. Expect to see squirming when you ask this question. (The guides and reps think you only want to see the gym, cafeteria and dorms. Hah!)

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