College visits are important; they can often be the lynchpin in your decision on whether or not to apply to—or attend—a school. However, college visits can get expensive. Finances often present a barrier for prospective students, preventing the chance to check out a school in person. If finances are getting between you and your college visit, check out our tips for alternatives for a campus tour. These steps can help you get to know a school, even if you can’t visit the college itself.
1. Check out their admissions page.
Schools will often put a lot of the same information that they go over in campus tours or presentations on their website. Starting at the admissions page can make it easier to find the pages for detailed information on housing, academic departments, and other aspects of student life. Some schools even offer an email newsletter so you can make sure that you receive all the latest news and deadlines straight to your inbox.
2. Do a deep dive on the department for the major(s) you’re interested in.
While the admissions page is great for a general overview, it won’t give you much info on the academic program you’re planning on joining. Take some time to look at the website for the department(s) you’re interested in, see what research projects the professors have been working on, and try to locate contact information for the departmental advisor if you have specific questions.
3. Reach out to professors and students.
Department websites will also often publish the contact information for their professors. Don’t be afraid to shoot them an email with your questions, or even request to set up a meeting over a phone or video call. They can be great resources to gain insider info on the program and what your life will be like in the classroom. In fact, one-on-one conversations can be a great way to get a head start on your peers in cultivating a relationship with a professor and potential mentor!
4. Check out their student newspaper.
School newspapers usually have their own website, and will generally be a more honest view of the school than the admissions website. School papers’ jobs are to be truthful about what’s happening on campus – remember that admissions pages are trying to “sell” the school to you, and may not be forthcoming about the less-than-positive aspects of student life. The newspaper, on the other hand, can offer the students’ perspectives on campus climate.
5. Find your admissions officer.
Many schools will have dedicated admissions officers to your geographic location, and they can be great resources for any questions you may have about their schools. Many schools will post the contact information for your area’s admissions officers, and many admissions officers will also visit high schools throughout the year to field any questions from prospective students. Keep an eye out for these visits, or reach out on your own.
Yes, college visits are extremely helpful in narrowing down your college list and eventually making a decision about a school. However, don’t stress too much if you aren’t able to do them! They may be an added benefit, but are definitely a privilege that not everyone can access. There are a lot of ways you can get the same information about the school without visiting the campus. Proactively utilizing these tools will still demonstrate your initiative and interest.
Have any more questions about the college admissions process and how you should be preparing? Struggling with how to proceed when you can’t visit a college? Check out our services and set up a free consultation with us today.