Thursday, October 30, 2014

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The Key to Finding the Right College? The All-Important Campus Visit

By CNS Staff



It would be hard to overstate the importance of making a thorough campus visit before choosing to attend a college or university. And this visit should include an official tour, your own efforts to talk to other students and professors, and at least one night spent in the dorms on a Friday or Saturday.

CampusOfficial Tour

When you are taking part in the tour with the nice student guide assigned to you, make sure you ask, and get answers to, the questions that are most important to you.  When you get an answer, go ahead and ask again: “Are you sure that is what it is really like, because this is really important to me?”  You might be surprised at what the guide will tell you when you ask their personal opinion. That said, there is a saying “trust, but verify.”  So listen to the official answers you get, but verify those answers by talking to random students or professors and pay attention to what you see and hear around campus.

Unofficial Reconnaissance

While the official tour is important, you should get there early, stay late or come back at a time when you aren’t taking part in an official tour.  Walk around campus, talk to students, and lots of them.  Ask them about the things that are most important to you, whether it is class size, dorm life, the music at Masses, or the types of weekend activities students take part in. You should also sit in on a class or two, but the reality is that you will spend far more time in the dorm room than the classroom, so make sure that the culture on campus is one that will help you grow and mature and nourish your mind and soul.

The Overnight

It is very important that you spend the night in the dorms on a Friday or Saturday.  Find out what dorm life is really like, because you will be spending a lot of your time in college in the dorms in close quarters with so many other students!  Are the visiting hours enforced?  Is there a hook-up culture that will make you uncomfortable or tempt you?  Do all of the Catholic students attend Mass on Sunday? Be honest with yourself about whether the campus is right for you and your long-term goals.  Not whether it is fun.  Whether it is right for you!

Other Questions to Ask

So, what are some other questions to ask?  Certainly ask about the area you intend to major in. Talk to professors and upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, who have that major. Ask them what the classes are like. Take a look at a syllabus or two. Ask about class size both in core courses that all students take and also in upper level courses.

There is no shortage of advice on the Internet available for questions to ask during a campus visit, and you should make sure that you prepare and do your research.  Make a list of the questions that are most important to you, and don’t leave campus until you are satisfied with the answers you have found.  

The Bottom Line

You will be spending four years and thousands of dollars to attend a college, so make sure that you are getting what you need!  

And after the campus visit is over, your research can continue on the Internet and in social media apps. 
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