Congratulations! You’re in! You’ve been accepted to a school you really like, maybe even your dream school. You’re set. There’s just one catch: for whatever reason – be it financial, health-related, anything – you can’t visit before move-in day. Everyone on the admitted students Facebook page is talking about how beautiful the campus is and which dorm they hope to end up in, and you’re just sitting there at home, like yeah, that looks great! That dorm sounds nice . . . It has a nice name anyway. Fear of the unknown? What?? Nah, you’re fine. Right? . . . Right? You can be dead-set on a school and still feel apprehensive. Here are a few ways to feel more comfortable with a locked-in decision.
Talk to people who already go there
Whether you already know them, find them on Facebook, or even hit up some commenters on College Confidential, if you actually want to get a sense of the school, you’ll need people who, you know, actually take classes there. Ask them what the social environment is like. What are some intro classes to watch out for? Where are the best study spots? Get the perspective of the students, not just the Office of Admissions.
Read up on the departments that interest you
So the college might be unfamiliar, but the subjects probably aren’t. Get on your school’s website and explore subjects that you enjoy studying. If you can get excited about some of the classes you might end up taking, you’ll feel a lot better about your decision in general.
Look into a virtual tour, or at least get a map
Missing out on the tour sucks. Most of your classmates will already kind of know their way around. But that doesn’t mean you can’t check out the campus from the comfort of your home. A lot of colleges have virtual tours that will take you through all the major locations, usually throwing in trivia and fun facts while they’re at it. If that’s not available, try to nab a map. The most important thing to know is the route from your dorm to the dining hall. If you can memorize that, you’ll be set.
Seek out the info sessions
Do a little digging and see if your school is holding any information sessions or events in your area. It’s not so far-fetched. Throughout my senior year, several Ivy League schools sent representatives to Podunk, Missouri, so there’s a good chance they’ll send some your way, too. If Google isn’t spitting out any productive results, try getting into contact with an admissions officer and ask about any upcoming events you could attend.
Mailing lists are your friend
Sign up for them. E-mail. Snail mail. Carrier pigeons. Whatever. This is all free information designed to showcase the very best of your school. While they’re inevitably going to be over-polished, those pamphlets are a great way to discover opportunities at your school. And if you’re locked into a decision anyway, it doesn’t hurt to focus on the positive.
Yes, the Facebook groups are dorky. Yes, they will be filled with incredibly pretentious introductions by rising freshmen who are trying way too hard. Yes, you’ll get notified every time someone asks a dumb question. Join them anyway. Participate in them. Post your own pretentious bio. This is prime socializing time. Never again will you have so many reasons to talk to random classmates. Talk to them about extracurriculars. Ask them what they’re most excited about. Ask about what worries them. Everyone in that group will have a useful perspective that can give you a better sense of your target school.
Get there early
Especially if your orientation starts on move-in day, you should try to make it to campus a day or two early. That will give you some time to check out the campus on your own before all the other freshmen arrive. This is also a good opportunity to drop by some offices (Residence Life, Financial Aid, etc.) and ask any questions that you might have.
It can be pretty nerve-wracking to confirm your attendance at a school you can’t visit, but don’t let those worries ruin your summer. Just follow these steps and you’ll be feeling comfortable with your decision in no time.