How a campus visit can help your college search
Helping your child choose a college is a critical undertaking, but how do you cut through all the noise to figure out where your student will be safe, supported, and successful?
“A campus visit is the thing, in my mind, that really distinguishes one school from another,” Illinois State Director of Admissions Jeff Mavros said. “I think it’s what really helps connect students on a personal level to a campus.”
Regardless of where you are in the college search process, here are a few reasons to gas up the car and go see things for yourself:
- Get personal—A campus visit allows you to go from passive consumer of information to active participant in finding your fit. What’s important to you? Class size, workout facilities, residence halls? Check them out for yourself. Have questions about a particular major? Set up meetings in advance with department representatives who can talk you through the ins and outs of their offerings. A campus visit is your time to access anyone and anything that will help narrow your list of schools.
- Pictures may not tell the whole story—You’ve probably already collected print material on colleges your child might attend. That’s a great starting point, but the flattering images are what the school wants you to see. Form your own opinion about a campus by seeing it through the most important lens—yours.
- Explore the town and surrounding area—Take the time to check out what’s available to your student outside the classroom walls. Get a feel for the town or city your student will be living in, including its culture, how easy it is to get around with or without a car, and how safe it is.
- Talk to those with real insight—There’s only one place to talk to people who can give you an unfiltered look into life at a particular college, and that’s on campus. Encourage your child to chat with current students to get a truer sense of what’s in store. What are the best parts of campus life? Would they choose to attend if they had to do it over again? Does the experience match what a school is telling you?
- Find your fit–It’s important for a college to meet all of your main criteria, such as size, cost, distance from home, etc. It’s equally important that your student feels a sense of belonging and community in order to make him or her feel at home. That comfort level is what allows students to reach their potential.
“This is a personal process and should be a personal process,” Mavros said. “It doesn’t matter where your child’s friends are going; it doesn’t matter what guidebooks tell you is the ‘best’ school among a list. What matters is where your child sees him or herself and where he or she is going to be happy. Because if a student is happy, he or she is going to be more successful.”
Experience the importance of a campus visit for yourself. Take a look at the the types of visits available to you and your family at Illinois State.
Related Article: Before you hit the road to see colleges, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trip to campus.
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