Here are a few things to consider before visiting college campuses
Statistics suggest that plenty of high school students select their college through recommendations from peers and by how much they like the school's website. If, during this process, you find yourself unable to visit in person right away, many of the schools do offer virtual tours online and have a Facebook page that can put you in touch with an actual student. However, when making such a crucial decision perhaps the most important input of all can result from a personal visit to the campus.
No other single factor can give you the information you'll really need to make the right choice. College viewbooks have been known to highlight only the good side of the story, and peers and family members can be attracted by factors that are less important to you. Only an on-site college campus visit will give you the comfort that you've made the right choice.
Since you'll probably be visiting more than one school, you'll need to be organized. Most schools will suggest, if not require, that you make an appointment for your campus tour through the admissions office. If you plan on visiting the financial aid office, which is a great idea, contact them directly to schedule that appointment. Also, it is helpful to make a list of your college campus questions in advance, so you address any concerns that you or your family may have about the school.
When should I visit?
Naturally, it makes sense to see a school while it's in session. Many high schools offer juniors and seniors time off for college campus visits, so ask your guidance counselor about that.
Since college is both about studies, social life and extracurricular activities, you might want to schedule an overnight visit, which most schools would be only too happy to arrange. Perhaps consider including in that visit one school day and one weekend day, just to get a balanced feel for what both parts of the week are like at that institution. This offers a great opportunity for you to answer many of your college campus questions, both relating to the academic and social aspects of college life.
Here are a few more things you might consider doing on your campus visit:
- Ask to sit in on a couple of classes
- Arrange to meet with a professor or two in your area of interest
- Make sure to eat in the school dining hall
- Ask the alumni office for a short list of recent graduates from your area whom you could arrange to call or meet
- Visit the financial aid office and find what to expect from them upon acceptance
Once you have a list of your final school choices, start understanding your financial aid package
As soon as you've narrowed down your college choices, apply for or update your FAFSA to see what federal aid is available to you. To fill the gap between federal aid and any scholarships and grants you will receive, consider a private student loan from Citizens Bank. You can find helpful information about our affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan™. If you have questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.