There are two lines of thinking regarding college campus visits. One approach is to spend the money and time visiting campuses that the student and family are interested in BEFORE the application process begins. The other approach is to have the student apply first to colleges, wait to see if he/she is accepted and THEN visit campuses.
Take a Virtual Tour
Regardless of the approach, much can be learned from the official web sites of colleges and universities. Typing in the name of the campus of your choice in any popular web search program will most likely produce the web address for that campus. From many of these web pages, one can take a virtual tour of the campus. One can learn about the academic departments, the admissions process and the students are who being admitted to the campus. Often, copies of applications, viewbooks, course catalogs and other publications can be printed from the official web site. All of these are helpful in assisting prospective students and their families in making college decisions.
Or see for yourself
What is often missing from the virtual approach, however, is the chance to experience the "flavor" of a campus, the personalities of the students or the surrounding community. The campus you dream about, may in fact, turn out to be not what you expected. If you do decide to visit a campus in person, let the college web site help you in the planning process. Not only can you find out when informational sessions are given, when tours take place and how to set up an interview with the admissions counselor, you can most likely find hotel and restaurant recommendations and directions to the campus via air, car and other modes of transportation. By attending informational sessions on campus, detailed questions can be asked like:
- How much is the average financial aid package?
- How much of that consists of loans and how much comes in grants and scholarships?
- Who teaches the classes, the college professor or the teaching assistant?
- What is the faculty to student ratio?
With advanced planning, a visiting student can make an appointment to meet with a professor working in the field in which the student is interested. This will help a student know if this is the place that he/she wants to study. Choosing a college or university to attend is an important commitment of time and money. Just as you probably wouldn't purchase a car sight unseen, you owe it to yourself to do the research and make a visit before you invest in post-secondary education.
Any Venture School student or parent may contact Alissa Kruse, school counselor, at (925) 479-1215 or at email@example.com for further explanation or support.