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You’ve picked your top colleges, you’ve applied, and now acceptance letters are slowly making their way to your mailboxes. So what do you do now? You make the college visits. I know that traditionally, people visit colleges before they apply to see if they even want to, but I believe that even after you’ve received your acceptance letter it’s best to visit again. Why is visiting your colleges again a good idea?

Most colleges offer better visiting packages to accepted students, giving them chances to tour more parts of the school, meet with admissions officers, and other awesome, fun events to connect with other students that have been accepted and are seriously considering the school. It would only be in your best interest to take advantage of these trips.

For an example, I’ll be using my own recent visit to my college. My college offers accepted students a chance to visit the school for a weekend for a flat rate that, for me, covered the cost of flying, staying in a hotel, and meals. So this weekend I flew out to visit my school, and right when I got there I was welcomed by the event coordinators and was situated into my room and fed dinner.

By the next morning I already had the chance to network with various other students who were there as well and made some awesome new friends. We got the afternoon to ourselves to explore the city, which was great as it gave me a chance to see what kind of place I was going to be living in for my next four years. And then right when I got back, I was able to meet some more students who had arrived later and then we had a dinner. Since my school is a Culinary school, we had a fabulous dinner in which we got to sit and chat with teachers and senior students at the school to learn more about the programs we were interested in. I ended up learning a lot about the school and the programs through the teacher’s and student’s eyes, which I thought was nice instead of just hearing generic facts about the school from an admissions officer.

The next day we got to tour the campus. And we didn’t just walk around buildings and learn about their history, we actually got to sit inside classes, see presentations, talk with students inside their classrooms, and speak with the teaching chefs. We got to taste everything the students made and got a look of what we would be doing as students there. They actually showed us the “behind the scenes” of classes, not just the glamorous side. They then showed us dorm rooms, and not just the best dorms on campus that were clean and spacious to impress parents. They actually showed us a room current students were living in, and we got to talk to them about how it was living there. They even took the time to show us the other living halls at our own request. Afterwards, they had booths for specific things on campus, so we got to walk around and have specific questions answered by specialists. And what I loved the most is that despite there being a lot of students, everyone I talked to managed to learn my name and greeted me warmly if they saw me later. Also, if I had a question they couldn’t answer, they wrote down their contact information and then other people I should try contacting to get my questions answered.

On the last day, they had a scholarship recognition ceremony for all the students who received a scholarship from the school. We got to meet the heads of each department, and instead of receiving a piece of paper in the mail, they actually handed us official portfolio-type covers with the papers in there. It was an awesome thing to do for incoming students, even though some students hadn’t fully committed to the school yet. And it made me think, if this is how they treat you when you’re not even officially a student yet, how much better is it when you are?

Now you might be confused on what I’m trying to say and wondering if I’m just bragging about how awesome my school is, but basically what I want you to take away from my story is that this is how your school should treat you. They shouldn’t just try to sell the school to your parents on how impressive it is, but they should also sell it to you, the student. Because this is the place you will growing for the next four years, so it better be a place you will love and enjoy. And if your school can’t make you imagine yourself actually being there, then it might not be the best school for you.

Because after attending this tour of my school, the other tours I went to at other schools seemed so lackluster, and I realized that I could have settled on a school I would’ve been unhappy at, had I not given this school another look. This school made me feel so at home on my tour, and that is what you should feel like on your next college tour. And definitely don’t just visit the one school you have set your heart on because it sounds like the best. You won’t realize just how much better you feel at another school if you don’t take the chance to actually see it.

So go out there, tour all your colleges once again, and ask yourself these questions: Which school made you feel the best to be at? Which school actually showed that not only would you work hard being there, but they would also do their best to make you feel welcome? Which school was the most honest with you on how your work ethic should be? And lastly, which school did you feel you fit in with everyone else? Because when you’re surrounded by other people who share the same passions, it will only motivate you more. And if you have positive answers for all those questions, then that school definitely is the one for you.

What do you think about visiting your colleges?

Photo courtesy of boliyou (I {heart} Rhody) via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).