by Ricky Cosmos
When making a campus visit, there are many things that high school students can learn about their potential future college or university. A prospective weekend or day-trip is one way to answer many questions about the school, campus, curriculum, student life and school programs. Parents should attend at least a portion of the visit with the high school student to get an idea of what life will be like, as well as the financial and distance aspects of the college experience. Parents may notice some things that students will not that may have a significant bearing on whether or not the student might attend.
The amount of time spent on a campus will have a direct bearing on how much the student can learn about the university. Since schools often charge a fee for prospective weekends, overnight visits and sometimes for day visits, students may want to narrow down which ones they attend, and carefully choose between overnight and non-overnight visits. Sometimes the distance travelled to the college campus may make that choice an easy one. The schools with the most interest or potential should earn the most time spent on campus. Those offering athletic or academic scholarships or financial assistance should also merit a longer visit.
Observe Student Life
Find out how many fraternities and sororities the university has, and whether they are social or academic. Determine whether they have Greek housing and look into the various activities and clubs.
Discover the Campus
Take a tour of the campus. Get a map. Check out the dormitories, libraries, classrooms, athletic fields of choice and other points of personal interest.
Learn About Scholarships
Find out what potential scholarship opportunities are available. For example, major scholarships in the field of interest may be available. For hopeful earth sciences majors, geology scholarships may be a possibility. Talking to the department head and securing a contact or at least application information is a wise use of time. Plan ahead and make an appointment.
Experience Campus Activities
Visit while school is in session, if possible. Attend a sporting event, especially for students interested in a spot on a sports team or athletic scholarships. See what type of enthusiasm and support the sports teams receive. Observe the condition of the training facilities and playing fields.
Often overlooked is the campus dining hall and its fare. Eat a meal there and experience the food, drink and dietary offerings first-hand. Ask students what they think of the food and whether there are other realistic dining options available.
Interact with the students, faculty and administrators. Ask questions. Talk to students about their use of time for partying, studying, socializing and attending classes.
Some schools will offer prospectives a personal host, often in their chosen major. Some visitors may be in large groups, depending on the length of the stay and time of year. Students should take this opportunity to shadow the students, ask questions and learn as much as possible.
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