It can be overwhelming - stepping onto a college campus can feel like you are crossing over into another world. In many ways you are.... Student Unions seem immense, maps are hard to follow and information sessions feel packed with numbers and statistics. Plus, the bookstores. Wow. The sheer number of designs on the t-shirts can make anyone's head spin.
In order to not only make the most of your time dipping your toe into the world of higher education, but to also enjoy a few moments, here are 5 tips for college visits ::
1. Charge that iPhone
No really. Let your iPhone do the heavy lifting during your trip. Snap pictures of the campus, your tour guide, cool events happening when you are there. It will be so much easier to remember your time at the future school of your dreams if you have a little visual reminder.
2. Eat like a student
Grab a snack or a bite to eat somewhere among the current students. It's like taking an African safari and being able to see the animals up close and in their natural habitat. What's the vibe? Are students hanging out? Working on laptops? Do you see posters for upcoming events that sound interesting? Any professor looking types doing a little mixing and mingling?
3. Register for the info sessions and tours
Trying to figure out if schools track demonstrated interest is like trying to crack the code of a bank vault. Why not assume that every school cares if you take an interest in them? Sign up, sit back and enjoy. Don't worry about keeping up with the number and stats - that's what websites and brochures are for. Instead look around and see who is joining you. Make friends with another family in your tour group. Listen to your tour guide and ask about their involvement in groups on campus.
4 & 5. Reflect and Record
This last tip is so important I think it warrants 2 slots on the list. Within 24 hours of the visit, write down your impressions of your time spent on that campus. Save it in a file folder on your laptop or write it in a journal - record your thoughts any place that you will be able to find them in 6 months when you are writing your college essays. You may think you will be able to recall which professor spoke about that cool project or the campus that had the food trucks but chances are at some point it will all run together.
Remember - you are in charge of this process! It isn't easy to decide where to spend the next four years of your life. Ask what you need to know and see what you need to see - then head over to the bookstore and grab a cool t-shirt.