In-person college visits have been an important part of the college search and selection process for a long time, but there has been a significant shift in how students are going about visits and when they choose to go on them.
“Of prospective students who visit campuses in April, about half are stepping foot on campus for the first time after submitting their application.” (Source)
Why the change? Students’ college choices have become more diverse than ever. With early admission not being a given, for even the highest achieving students, many students want to wait to visit different schools until their list is more solidified – AKA – knowing if they were actually admitted before visiting.
With a decline of early college visits (before actually knowing whether you’re admitted or not), we started thinking about the importance of in-person college visits and what students may be missing out on if they choose to wait until late spring to make a visit. So, why visit a school before applying? Why visit before knowing if you’re admitted?
Nothing Replaces an In-Person Visit
While our digital world and highly connected society are great in a lot of ways, it truly can’t replicate an in-person experience. It’s easy to look at a website or social media profile and assume you have a feel for a college or university, but the truth is, you won’t really know what it would be like to attend that school until you actually visit.
Walk around the campus, tour the dorms, and get a feel for the town the school is located in. These are just a few things that will be important to you, that you can’t get a true feel from by simply viewing them online.
Remember: Photos will be the BEST version of a given school. You’re going to see the nicest and cleanest dorms online, the best views, and maybe even some staging that has been manipulated to make things look better than they actually are. This is common, so it makes it all the more important for you to see things for yourself in-person.
Get In-Person Answers to Your Questions
Reading info about the school, its students and programs online are great, but being able to actually talk with faculty, staff, other students and even alumni in person is a great tool and will give you better answers to your questions!
Show Demonstrated Interest
We’ve discussed demonstrated interest a few times and ways you can go about showing that to potential schools. Visiting in-person is one of the most important ways you can show that. Once a school has your name on file for a visit, they automatically can see that there is a level of interest. If you choose to visit before applying, once you do apply, they’ll already see that you’ve demonstrated interest.
Save Time and Filter Through Options Up Front
By visiting colleges prior to applying, you will save yourself time later by finding out if a school is worth your time and effort in applying. If you visit a school and don’t like the location or campus, it may not make sense to go through the process of applying. This can help you whittle down your search.
In-person college visits are still as important today as they were twenty or thirty years ago. Scheduling visits are integral in the college search and application process. Make sure to think ahead and have them lined up as you become interested in different schools!