Perhaps many of your friends have begun signing up for nearly campus tours or booking plane tickets for spring break college visits. As they regale you with the lengthy list of to-visit places, a little voice pops up in your head. “Should I do that too? Is it even worth it?”
Going on college visits during spring of junior year or throughout senior year has become so popular among high schoolers that an entire industry has sprung up around it. Some colleges offer interviews that can only be held on-campus, special overnight programs where those interested share a dorm room with a current student, or various day events to convince you to apply to their school.
All of these resources and opportunities out there may bring about the notion that it’s important, even imperative, to go on college visits. Short answer - that notion is a myth. You are not required to go on college visits, and they are definitely not going to be a crucial part of your college application.
Why you might want to
While not crucial, there are still benefits to be found on college visits if you have the time and means to do them.
The primary reason to go is to get an in-person, individual experience of what the campus and culture is like. You can’t replace watching a video or reading someone else’s summary with really walking the streets yourself, tasting the cafeteria food first-hand, and possibly sitting in on an actual lecture.
Secondly, college visits are a great way to get more info. Being on campus is the perfect chance to go up to students and ask for their personal and honest opinions about their college, instead of biased reports on the internet. Many students will be happy to talk to you and explain why they chose their college (or why they might think that it won’t be the best fit for certain people). Campus visits also commonly have information sessions where you can ask an expert about any questions or concerns you might have directly.
Many people believe that visiting campus is the ultimate way to gauge your ‘gut feeling’ and determine whether or not you’d like to attend that college. This isn’t true for everyone, but if you are the type of person that needs to be truly standing on the front lawn to be able to apply with confidence knowing that you want to, then seriously consider visiting the college.
Why you might not want to
College visits are not for everyone. For colleges that are far away, plane tickets and hotel expenses quickly add up. The time needed to travel and spend entire days on campus takes away from other commitments that you may have, especially during the school year. Sometimes they may morph into just a family vacation or excuse to skip school, which certainly defeats the objective of gaining more insight into why you’d want to apply.
College visits are definitely a privilege, but you won’t become a less viable applicant by not visiting. There are many alternatives to stepping on foot the campus.
Note: if you are concerned about the cost associated with college visits but are really interested in visiting, check the college’s website about fly-in programs. Many places offer free travel or even room and board for students with demonstrated financial need. However, keep in mind that many of these programs apply to after you have been accepted.
- If you have specific questions or are just looking for more general information about the college, try sending their college admissions office an email or browse their website to learn more.
- Watch a virtual tour of campus or reach out to current students through the internet to ask about campus life.
- Join mailing lists, follow social media pages, and talk to college admissions counselors at college fairs or possible information events at your high school to show your interest.
There are pros and cons to visiting campus. In the end, it is up to your preferences and what works best for you as a student and applicant to best figure out where you want to apply. Examine your priorities, and trust your best judgement on deciding whether or not to plan out that college tour.
At Empowerly, college admissions experts can save you from digging through the piles of information online or the need to travel to campus for information. We can help you quickly identify the information you need to compile a list of potential colleges that are the best fit for you. Feel free to contact us at Empowerly here for someone who can provide you with assistance getting into the college(s) you are interested in.