One of the most important aspects of the college application process is visiting college campuses. Information sessions provide a wealth of information about the academic program. They will give you facts about the different majors that offered, the student teacher ratio, and other details that make the program unique. Touring the university’s campus with a current student as a guide is invaluable. Prospective students will have the opportunity to visit a dorm room, walk through the library and other buildings around campus. Critically important is what is not said but noticed. As you walk around the campus, make observations. What kind of posters hang in the student center? On the bulletin board in the dorm hallway? Grab the school newspaper and read some of the articles. What subjects are being discussed? Observe the students. Do they look happy when you are in the student center? Is there positive energy? School spirit? Are students sitting alone or are there groups of students clustered together?
Recently I was on a tour at Boston University and the admissions officer encouraged us to “get lost” after the tour. She charged the group to grab lunch at one of the dining halls and walk around campus and ask current students how they feel about their community and life on campus. It may feel awkward to do that but it is wonderful advice. A student needs to figure out if the school could be a good fit. Just because a school enjoys a good reputation, or a high ranking, and the bumper sticker would look great on a car does not mean the fit is right. The culture on campus and academic life will determine the school where the student will feel most at home. Walking around – can you picture yourself as a member of the community?