College Visits – How to Maximize Your Experience

For high school students the transition from high school to college can be intimidating. It is seemingly a very big step for them perhaps because of fear of change and the unknown. Many high school students do not know which colleges to apply to and what to expect. Thus I believe it is important for all high school juniors and seniors who are prospective in attending college in the coming years to go visit colleges. Visiting colleges will allow prospective high school students to get a “feel” for the college and will help them choose which college is right for them. In effect, the exposure to colleges will gradually reduce the fear of the transition to college life. Though college visits hesitant high school students will in time embrace college as not something to be feared, but a thing to look forward to.

During my junior year of high school, I made my first college visits to the East Coast in the United States. I went in particular to the Boston area to check out the many schools that I had thought of applying to. There are many universities and colleges in the Boston area such as Boston University, Boston College, UMASS, Brown University, Dartmouth, and Amherst College just to name a few.

Regardless of what college you are thinking of applying to or attending and I would recommend juniors and seniors in high school to always visit university campuses before making a final decision as to where to go. Going to visit colleges is an important part to choosing the right university or college because that is where you will be living and studying at for the next four years of your life. By going to visit a university or college campus you will be given insight on living conditions and also how happy you will be in this new environment. It is understandable this is a big step to take when you move onto college life. That is why you should go visit to get a glimpse of how well you may adjust when the time comes. When on my first college visit I went to travel to the East Coast I went to go visit Brown University and Dartmouth College. I will provide an overview of my experiences with sites to see, and detail highlights that I feel may be beneficial to the prospective student.

Upon arriving in the East Coast I found that the climate was very cold. And, it would stay this cold for the entire period of my trip. I had traveled from California so I found that the frigid climate in the Boston area in winter was much different from the temperate climate of California. Climate is something to consider when choosing the right college. Some people just don’t fare well in cold weather while others just love the snow.

Anyways, the next morning I went to Brown University to live in my cousin’s apartment and experience college life on Brown. If possible I advise people to stay as long on the campus they are visiting as possible to gain the best idea of what student life is like. Just taking college tours in my opinion is not sufficient enough to getting the “feel” of the college of university you are considering. Staying at my cousin’s apartment was a very informative experience. I got to attend three of my cousin’s classes and I also took a campus tour. I lived on Brown campus for three days and two nights. The opportunity to stay on the campus allowed me to place myself in Brown and see how well I could really adapt. I ate at the mess halls; I socialized with students and faculty; I even attended a party or too just like a real resident student there. Brown was a very beautiful campus. There were many things to do because it was in Providence, one of the biggest cities in Rhode Island. The city and location of a college is also a very important factor when choosing your college. Some prefer rural or suburban environments while others prefer urban settings. After my stay at Brown University I left for Dartmouth.

It was even colder in Dartmouth than in Brown because Dartmouth is located in New Hampshire which is more north than Rhode Island. Dartmouth was in a more rural environment than Brown. It was near 49 degrees Fahrenheit at Dartmouth when I got there. I just took a campus tour there and walked around campus. In comparison to my visit to Brown University I felt my visit to Dartmouth was much more impersonal. This must have been because I only took the college tour and did not have the opportunity to really get a feel for the school on a personal level. This is why I say once again it is better to just walk around campus for at least a few hours to get in touch with the setting. College tours will only tell you the good things about the college. The rest you have to discover by yourself.

I also visited a few of the dorms in Dartmouth. When looking into colleges it is important to check the living conditions. Some dorms in colleges are gradiose and gigantic while others seem like small walk in closets. You should always make appointments with the admissions offices to give you tours through the dorms. Same goes with college facilities. It is important to pay close attention to college tour guides when they tell you about their most prized facilities and professors. Don’t forget to go visit a few of them first hand also. You may need a student pass to access some facilities. If that is the case you should go to ask the admissions office to provide you with a visitors pass so that you have full access to the school and are free to roam about and experience the school to its fullest.

Overall the college visit experience is a very enlightening experience. Personally it was very helpful for my college search and my final decision to what school I should attend. I feel that I have learned a lot from my travel experience during the week I spent looking at colleges in the East Coast. After my experience I was definitely sure that Brown is my top choice school. I feel that it was because of my great experience there testing all aspects of student life there. I hope that in the future I may be accepted there as a student. Once again, it is advisable for all high school juniors and seniors to visit each college they are seriously considering on attending in the future. It is another four long years of schooling. It would be better if you were happy and comfortable.

One last word of advice: Don’t forget to book your airplane tickets early to avoid high airfare! Plan the trip also; don’t just show up without a plan. College trips don’t necessarily have to be a pain in your wallet. Mine was financed for under $500 for a week.

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