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The Business Forum
Why Are College and
University Visits Important?
By Janice Caine
It is important before even talking about how to prepare for
college and university visits to take some time to understand why these
visits are so important.
When you go through the college search process, you should
do so with the idea that you are looking for an institution where you will spend
as much time as needed to earn your degree. Think of the college that you
ultimately choose as your home away from home. And like your home, you want
that to be a place that will be comfortable for you. Comfortable in the sense
that your basic needs are taken care of, but comfortable also as a place where
you feel confident enough to explore and discover new knowledge about yourself
and the community around you. The college that you choose should also be a
place where the study environment and facilities allow you to accomplish your
goals, both short and long-term. And what are the activities that you like to
do? Does the college offer those activities? How do the students at each of
the institutions on your list like these activities?
More than printed materials, websites, virtual tours and
visits from admissions counselors, college visits allow you to get a true feel
for the campus environment and the students that attend. It is your opportunity
to evaluate an institution first hand – the academics, the living arrangements,
the athletics and more. It is not uncommon for a student to think that, based
on promotional literature, a college is the right place yet after a visit,
decide that it is not the right “fit.”
When it comes to deciding on that right “fit,” there are
multiple factors to consider. For instance – perhaps you think you want a big
school. But what does that mean? “Big” in terms of the number of students that
attend? Or “big” meaning the size of the school? Is 125 acres big? How about
800 acres? It is hard to get a feeling for the size of a campus without
actually visiting it. A campus visit allows you to determine if you are best suited to a
campus where you can walk or bike from one end to the other in 15 minutes, or
perhaps you would prefer a campus where you might need to take a shuttle to get from your dorm
to one of your classes. Do you want a campus in the middle of a city? Perhaps
you enjoy the fast pace and all of the activities that happen in a city. But is
New York too big for you? How about Washington DC? And while some universities,
like Columbia University and American University have true campuses within a
city, others like George Washington University and New York University do not.
Even if you begin your visits not knowing what you’re looking for, university
visits will help you narrow down your criteria.
Did you know that college visits can be very helpful when
it comes to writing application essays? Once you have become familiar with a
college campus, it is easier to answer the question of why you want to attend
that institution, or how you can contribute to the community. There might also
be something that you’ve seen, or someone you have met on campus that will
motivate you to write an inspiring essay.
Did you know that some (not all) colleges look favorably
upon those students that have visited their campuses? In fact, some colleges
ask on their applications if you have paid them a visit. While visiting these
colleges does not guarantee that you will be accepted, it does help to show your
Overnight visits are an excellent way for you to learn more
about the culture of a college. You will be hosted by a current student – you
will not only attend a class or two, but depending upon the interests of that
student you may attend an event on campus, you will see what life is like in the
dorms, sample the food and spend time with other current students.
What other factors might influence where you choose to
attend college? How about the weather? If you currently live in a temperate
climate and you’re considering in colder weather, you might want to try to visit
during the wintertime so you can get an idea of what life will be like during
those colder months.
Whether you are hoping to attend a college close to home or
somewhere around the world, it’s important to visit the campuses before making
your final decision. College visits are an integral part of the college search
process as aptly stated by Brian Rosenberg, President of Macalester College in a
recent New York Times article. “Few people would even consider buying a
house or a car sight unseen. Selecting a college is a financial decision of
comparable or greater weight, and a life decision of far more consequence.”
Janice Caine is the Founder of Custom College Visits, Janice Caine works
directly with students and their parents, facilitating initial consultations,
on-campus logistics, travel research, trip implementation and college relations.
Janice brings twenty years of travel industry and
meeting-planning experience to her college-bound audience. She is highly
regarded for her work with international tour companies and major U.S.
companies, which included customized special interest and VIP tours, deluxe
incentive tours, corporate conferences and travel agent orientation trips. The
extensive research and legwork she put into travel itineraries --- domestic and
international, individual and group -- is extremely relevant to her work with
her successful college visit itineraries and tours today.
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