Loyola welcomes more than 10,000 prospective students to campus each year to get a feel for the Loyola Experience. While students typically begin visits during their junior year in high school, we welcome younger students as well as transfer students. The summer months tend to be busiest, with families planning campus visits around summer vacations, family reunions, etc. This is a great time to check out a college campus while sampling what the town or region has to offer. It is the best way for students to begin to find their “best fit” college choice.
Students visiting campus during the school year can see what the typical day on campus is like with classes in session. But no matter what time of the year students choose to make their campus visits, there are a few things to keep in mind to help make the visit successful. The first five tips focus on planning the visit. The second five tips, coming next week, focus on the actual campus visit.
Top Five Tips for Planning a Successful Campus Visit
- Start with “www._____.edu.” All colleges and universities offer something different (majors, clubs, athletics, service opportunities, etc.) in different locations (rural/city, Midwest/west coast, etc.). Virtual tours and campus videos are available on many university Web sites. At Loyola, we share these videos through IGnation and YouTube, where students can see spotlights on Chicago and things like the academic facilities. There are also many different Web sites that provide a quick overview at the start of a college search such as College Board. By doing a little research, students can see ahead of time if they want to investigate a particular school further.
- Think broadly, begin locally. Students often have a dream or ‘reach’ school. It might be in their own backyard or it may be across the country. Students can start by identifying some colleges and universities in their home town or within a short distance prior to setting up visits further away. It doesn’t cost a lot other than perhaps time. It really helps a student think about what type of school might be best. Is it big or small, located in a rural area or a city, is there a diverse or homogeneous student population, is it religiously affiliated or not? Students might also find that they want to consider attending college closer to home as a possibility.
- Add in visits for comparison. Students interested in attending college further away should see what other colleges or universities are like in the area. Set-up visits to three or four schools to compare thoughts on location, size, feel, offerings within the town, selectivity, etc. Visit a small school or maybe a flagship public university or a larger private university. Some students pass up this chance only to realize later that another school in the area might have been their best match. Remember, students can also add schools along the way because interstate signs help to point out college locations and walk-ins are welcome everywhere!
- Set-up appointments ahead of time and confirm the visit. Students should go to Web sites of the colleges they are visiting. This will help give them a chance to see what is offered during a campus visit. Remember that some institutions have limitations or restrictions. For example, not every university can offer an individual appointment with an admissions counselor. Or, some schools don’t offer campus tours on weekends. All in all, the university or college knows how to best share the experience they offer, so trust in them to get that first exposure to the campus. At a minimum, students should sign up for the campus tour and an information session and/or meeting with someone in admissions, depending on what the college offers. If visiting during the academic year and the desire is to meet with a faculty member, students should see if this is possible ahead of time. Finally, students should ensure that they have a confirmation for their visit.
- Be realistic. Summer visits are great, but realize that the environment on a college campus in the summer is very different than what is going on during the academic year. The same applies to weekend visits. If a student is just looking to get a feel for where the campus is, its size, etc., then these appointments are great. Also, realize that appointments with faculty members or coaches aren’t always possible due to scheduling limitations/regulations (NCAA Division I). Students seeking a fuller campus visit experience should attend an open house, where typically each department has representatives available who are dedicated to getting questions answered.
P.S. Check out our Web site for future updates on our fall open houses:
- Junior Rambler Day Open House (October 29)
- Senior/Transfer Open House (November 12 and November 19)