Four Tips for a Productive Campus Visit

students walking on a campus tour

Visiting campus at any stage of your college search process is important. Make the most of that visit with these four recommendations.

1. Make an Appointment
This may sounds obvious, but every admission office has their fair share of visitors who stop by without an appointment, hoping to get a campus tour. Now more than ever, with COVID protocols such as reduced capacities to accommodate social distancing in place, appointments are necessary to visit a school. Check out the visit section of the college admission site to set up your appointment and confirm your spot.

While on the subject of appointments … if your plans change or you are unable to attend after you sign up, let the college know. Again, by letting the school know you can’t make it, a spot for someone else might be made available.

2. Stories, Not Stats. People, Not Programs.
Before you arrive on a campus, do your research and create a list of questions you want answered. Next, consider who might be the best person to answer these questions during your visit.

Ask student guides, for example, about their own stories to learn the about campus life: What is their favorite place on campus? Who on campus has their back? What did they do last night? How was their transition from high school?

Save your facts-and-stats questions, including the most salient details about the admission process and financial aid, for the admission staff. You want the correct info, and the professional staff can give that to you.

3. Ask for Assistance
If you are admitted and it is financially difficult for you to visit a school that you are seriously considering, ask your admission representative if travel reimbursement is available. Some, but not all, schools have funds to help cover some of the cost of an airline ticket or even some gas money. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and you may find a way to make that trip possible!

4. Picture Yourself
Often times the campus visit is less about what is said and more about what you feel. When you’re there, open your mind and eyes to the world around you and try to picture yourself as a student there. Can you see yourself being friends, roommates, and classmates with the students on campus? Can you imagine this as a home-away-from-home?

It’s okay to make your final decision on something that may be random to others—whether it’s because students are wearing flip flops in the snow or there are bendy straws in the dining hall—if it’s important to you, embrace it and own it.

Trent Gilbert
Vice President for Enrollment Management
Birmingham-Southern College