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Visiting campus

It's a good idea to visit college campuses—during the school year, if possible—to get a feel for the environment and resources. We recommend exploring local colleges, attending information sessions, tours, and classes, and talking to current students. Additionally, some colleges offer financial assistance programs that enable low-income prospective students to visit the campus. 

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Video transcript

- Ideally, if you can get on college campuses before you're really, really invested you're mind is much more open and you get to see the variances and the difference that are out there. - So, another opportunity that you may or may not be aware of is a lot of schools now have programs that can assist students who don't have the finances to get to the school. A lot of schools now are doing fly in programs, either in the fall before you've even applied or once you've applied and been admitted, they also may pay for you to come and visit then. Again, it's always worth asking questions. If you really want to visit a school, it's always worth calling that school and saying "Hey, look, I'm a low income student. "Do you have any programs "where I might be able to come and visit?" And it's, again, a lot of schools will take an opportunity to try to get you onto their campus. Some may have an application process and some are competitive, some aren't as competitive but again, it's definitely worth looking into. Not all students get a chance to visit, but it's always worth asking questions to see if there are opportunities where the school may be able to help you do that so you can make some good decisions. - Start visiting colleges in your neighborhood just so you get a sense of the difference between a small school and a large school, and a school that's an urban campus much that's a rural campus. Looking for as many diversity variables will begin to give you a sense of what you like and where you think you're going to learn best. - Most students will say that a campus visit is one of the most important things that they are going to do in helping them determine if the school is going to be a good match for them. Things you can do, typically, on the website you will see most schools will offer daily information sessions and tours. I think that's probably a good starting point for a lot of students. Some of them you have to sign up ahead of time, and some you can just come to the campus and do that, and again it's a good general starting point. There are some schools that will offer interviews. Some of them might be evaluative, some of them might just be informational. Again, you can decide is that a step you want to take. Doing interviews can be an important part for you to get feedback from a college admissions person about specific questions you have but I would also definitely get off the beaten path as well. If you have time, you may also want to schedule some other kinds of things while you're there. So, if you're really interested in theater, you might be able to schedule an opportunity to talk with somebody in the theater department and what the opportunities might be. You might want to just spend some time in the student center, and sort of ask questions from some random students there who aren't part of the admissions office just to get their take on different kinds of things. You might have an opportunity to sit in a class. If you are there during the school year, you might be able to schedule it where a lot of schools will let you sit in on classes so you can get a take on that. If you're interested in "I think I might want a big school." "What is it like to be in a lecture hall with 300 students?" You might get a chance to do that. - Find out what the class size is, okay? Ask yourself "Do I like being in a big college "with a lot of students, or "does a smaller environment work for me best?" What do the dormitories look like? What are some of the classes that you'll be taking during your first year? What are the resources? For example, do they have, if I have problems let's say with writing, and my writing assignments do they have tutorials on that? I would also, and I used to recruit for graduate students, but I would always say to students ask if you can talk to other students. - There are some schools that let you do an overnight so you can actually spend a night there and see what a typical night is like. Go to the library. What is the dorm like at night? What are the kids talking about? A lot of those things can be very helpful. The summertime is a really important... It's a very popular time to visit because students are out of class, and you have the opportunity to go, but a lot of campuses are very different in the summer so you have to remember that. If you have the opportunity to go during the school year, that's probably ideal but that's a little bit more difficult so, again, using a campus visit wisely can be incredibly helpful in the process. I think that most of the students that I've worked with have found that to be a really helpful piece of their research process.