Why Visiting Colleges is the Most Important Admissions Tool

September 18, 2015
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When you’re deciding which college is the best fit for you, you might take several factors into account: the location of the school, university size, campus culture, and academics (i.e., the majors, minors, and programs offered). While doing research online, talking to counselors, and asking current students can help immensely, I found that visiting the colleges proved to be incredibly useful as well. Since campus culture varies so much from school to school, research, along with a personalized tour company like Campus Sherpa, really helps narrow down the search.

Visiting gave me greater insight on the intangible aspects of different schools, such as the general atmosphere and student culture. Was it competitive or laid-back? Did the environment foster intellectualism, pre-professionalism, or a bit of both? Was the campus open and spacious or small and isolated? Talking to current students on campus aided me in better understanding the school in addition to the information provided on the website. Whereas the brochures sometimes seemed impersonal and removed, being at the university was a direct way of learning about the school.

In touring the campus, I was able to understand the physical structure and size of the university. This certainly played a part in how I ultimately decided upon the University of Pennsylvania, which has an urban campus. Unlike many other universities, such as the University of Chicago and Washington University in Saint Louis, there are no defined borders that separate the school from its surroundings. Rather, UPenn is essentially integrated in the vibrant and bustling University City in Philadelphia. As someone who was born and raised in the suburbs, I was particularly drawn to the city vibe. At UPenn, the neighboring city seemed to be teeming with energy and activity, while at Northwestern, suburban neighborhood Evanston seemed far quieter. University size was also easier to gauge as I walked around the campus and sat in on classes. At some schools, the average class size was relatively small; students were able to engage with professors more often. At other schools, the classes were relatively larger; many courses were held in lecture halls with hundreds of students. Even though you can simply look up class size on the Internet, it’s definitely different actually sitting in on a lecture or class.

As I applied the fall of my senior year, I recalled the impressions I had formed from visiting the universities, learning about their programs, and talking to current students. Not only did this give me better pictures of the schools, but it also helped me in writing the essays (many schools have a “Why our university?” supplement). Understanding school culture is extremely important, which is why a startup like Campus Sherpa is valuable. They offer personalized, one-on-one tours that give applicants the opportunity to focus on their interests and goals. That way, every student’s personal guide (or “Sherpa”) can help them see what student life is really like. Culture fit is arguably the most important aspect of enjoying your college experience, so help yourself by visiting colleges before you choose.

Want a personal tour of over 70 campuses around the country? Whether you’re headed to campus in person or looking for a virtual tour, Campus Sherpa has got you covered. Get a one-on-one college tour today, it’s the easiest way to get the inside scoop on real college life! Campus Sherpa offers a 10% discount to all AdmitSee members who request a Campus Sherpa tour.

 



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