Campus visits can tell you if schools and programs really match your needs. Don't pick a school without first seeing it. While on campus, you can meet with other students to learn what they think about the school. You can also meet with representatives from admissions, financial aid, advising, and school programs.
Before You Go, Do Your Homework
High school students can start visiting schools in their sophomore and junior years. All potential college students should think about the majors and programs that fit them best. Then select schools to visit by identifying the ones that offer those programs.
Next, step back and think about what you want to get out of college. How will the colleges you're interested in support your goals?
Check out the websites of the schools you'd like to visit. Learn about the majors offered, faculty/instructors, student activities and tuition and fees. College fairs can also offer a good way to learn about schools. Look at Minnesota College Fairs or National College Fairs.
Want to know about the typical student services available on college campuses? Take this helpful virtual campus tour at KnowHow2Go University. Enter the campus buildings to learn more about each student service.
Don't Just Show Up
Pre-arrange your campus visits. The admissions offices of most schools arrange visits. They also often sponsor campus tours. Make the most of your visit by arranging to meet with staff and students. They can tell you about admissions requirements and timeframes as well as the overall environment of the school. Try to meet with some of these key people:
- A faculty member from your desired major or program. You can review the college website and contact the department chair or director for an appointment.
- A few students in your chosen major. You can ask the admissions office to arrange these visits for you. Some schools may allow you to sit through classes or stay overnight on campus.
- A financial aid officer. This will help you learn what kind of aid is available and deadlines. Look at Pay for College to learn about financial aid resources.
- Special campus representatives. Have a disability? Make sure you check in with the campus disability services office to ask about available services and accommodations. First, check out Students with Disabilities preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know your rights and responsibilities by the Office for Civil Rights.
What to See and Ask
Your campus visit is a great time to make sure a school fits you well academically, socially, and culturally. Use the list below as a start to figuring that out.
Majors, Classes, and Courses
- What majors does the school offer and how do they fit with your career goals?
- What is the typical class size?
- What is the ratio of students to faculty in your desired major or program?
- What is the course availability in your desired major or program?
- What is the average length of time that it takes to complete most degrees?
- What is the percentage of graduates employed in their program of study within six months following graduation?
- Is there a computer lab? Are laptops required or permitted for classroom use? Do you rent or lease laptops?
- What other types of services does the campus offer: student organizations, career guidance, medical services, and availability of counseling?
- What resources are offered for academic assistance?
- Do students get free e-mail and Internet access?
- What is the library like?
Environmental and Social Considerations
- What is the size and type of the campus (urban, suburban, small-town, or rural)? Is that a good fit for you?
- What are the tuition and fees? Do they fit into your budget?
- What is the reputation of the school and its faculty especially in your program areas?
- What is the diversity of the student population?
- What are student housing and food services like? Costs? How available are they?
- Is the environment and physical space appealing to you?
- What do you think of the location?
- Is bus service or parking available? Is the bus service or parking located near services and activities you want?
- What kinds of extracurricular activities interest you? Are they offered in this school?