One of the first questions I ask my students when I begin helping them with their college lists is about the type of school at which they see themselves. A common response I get is along the lines of “I want the big university with the football team, Greek life, thousands of new people to meet, and hundreds of majors to choose from.”
“Ok, great. This could be the perfect fit for you,” I say. “Now tell me why this is what you’re looking for.”
It’s usually after a bit of a pause and some prompting on my end that I understand why. Now I do owe credit to those students who have done their research and can provide me with a concrete list of reasons why these schools are their perfect fit. But most of the time, it’s because this is the type of school most commonly portrayed on film or television.
While this type of school can be the perfect fit for some students, others would do much better at something smaller or more focused. Though surprisingly, not many of my students come into the program having seen either of these types of schools in person.
Hence the importance of a good old-fashioned campus visit! I tell my students, how can you know what type of college is best for you if you haven’t yet stepped foot on one?
One of the great resources available to PES students is a video series on how to make the most of a campus visit. Our students learn what to expect, what questions to ask, and what things to see while on campus. We believe that equipping students with the necessary tools to prepare for a visit can make all the difference in the outcome of the actual day on campus.
As an added bonus, many colleges track your engagement with them, so a visit to campus could bode well for you when admissions season rolls around!
“But my dream school is on the other side of the country, and I don’t think it’s feasible for me to visit before I apply.” That’s okay, too! If you’ve toured similar schools (say your dream school is a large university in a big city—go tour a similar school that’s close to home) you then have a point of reference and can draw some parallels between your local school and other schools far from home.
And, to demonstrate interest at these faraway schools, feel free to reach out to your regional admissions counselor and let him or her know that distance makes it hard for you to visit campus. They may even be able to work with you and offer some travel reimbursements.
So take advantage of the fact that colleges and universities encourage you to visit their campuses before applying. Many have designated visit days for prospective campuses, and some will even create a unique visit just for you if your schedule does not line up with their visit days.
Just as colleges are ultimately going to be deciding whether or not you are the right fit for them during admissions season, it’s also important for you to determine whether a school is the right fit for you before you apply.
Until Next Time,
Molly Monet, PES Student Services Consultant
P.S. There is so much research and so many decisions when it comes to choosing the right school. Many students feel overwhelmed by the process and simply default to the nearest state school or follow their friends to a school that may not be the right fit. I’d love to work with you to help you find the perfect school. One that fits you academically, socially, and financially. If you’re ready to simplify the college admissions process, simply click here to get started.