Three Critical Tasks to Accomplish While on a College Visit

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By: Marsha Twilley

Visiting college campuses is a critical part of the college admissions/decision process. Whether scheduling an official visit or simply stopping in for an impromptu drive through a campus, all exposure to various colleges is a learning process for rising college students. While there are endless questions that can be asked, there are three critical tasks you need to accomplish while on the campus.

  1. Talk to several random students. Students who are not working for the admissions office are going to give you a different perspective. I have seen this time and time again. Admissions personnel, whether adults or students, are trained to show the best side of the school. This, of course, is their job; but when you stop a student who is walking past you and simply say something such as, “Hey! We are visiting campus today and wondered if you could answer a few questions?” you are guaranteed to get an honest answer. I have NEVER had a random student tell me no, and I’ve personally done this dozens of times. Students are always eager to share their insight and opinions. Ask them what they consider the best part of their college and what they consider their greatest challenge so far. You won’t be sorry!
  2. Find out how academic advising is done. It will ultimately be your student’s responsibility to navigate the arduous road of meeting all the academic standards for their chosen degree. Some colleges have extremely strong academic advising programs where a professor will require your student to meet with them each semester to ensure they are meeting the requirements and are on track for their program, while some schools leave much to be desired in this area. You don’t want to shell out all the money it takes for your child to go to college only to discover they are completely off track in their program of study. Ask questions about academic advising. It will ultimately pay dividends.
  3. Go into the library, speak to whoever is at the front desk and visit each floor. I cannot tell you the times I’ve been on a college tour where they simply pointed out the library, but did not take us inside. Listen, here’s the deal: your student is about to embark on the academic journey of a lifetime. They will spend endless hours in the library. Even if your tour doesn’t include going in there; you make sure to do it when the tour is over. Go in and talk to the people at the desk. Ask them what each floor houses and where the private study rooms are. Ask them the hours of operation and where coffee, snacks and medicine are available. Find out what floors are quiet and what floors allow for group engagement. The library speaks volumes about the academic caliber of the institution you are visiting.

While there is no doubt you and your student have a long list of questions to ask on each visit, accomplishing these tasks will allow you to gain a valuable perspective of each school.

For more college admissions insight and direction, contact Marsha Twilley, College and Career Consultant at Olive Orchard Lab,


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