It is extremely useful to go into college visits having a sense of what is important to you in a potential school since these visits are short and you may have traveled quite a distance just to visit. Having a mental list of what to look for will help you focus your thoughts (or notes if you decide to take any) during your time on campus. You may even want to create a checklist or graphic organizer to make comparisons to other schools easier or simply to jog your memory down the road. The following list describes some aspects of a school that you may not have thought to notice during a college visit. They can be very revealing about the culture of student life!
Residence halls usually set quiet hours to maintain an environment that is suitable for studying and sleeping. Quiet hours are either voted by students or set by residence hall directors depending on the university. Either way, quiet hours can help you imagine what your nights on campus will be like. Do dorms require quiet on Friday nights or can you picture yourself staying up all night, having a dance party with your roommate? Is it expected that students will remain quiet most nights to study or will there be an energetic environment in the common room for late night wings? It seems like a small thing, but it can be reflective of how the students act.
Greek Letters & Frat Row
Take a look around as you walk through campus. Are a lot of students wearing their letters? Do they seem to be hanging out with people wearing the same letters? Is Frat Row on campus? People take pride in their Greek organizations and usually flaunt that by representing their fraternities or sororities through style. Nothing wrong with that! Use this to your advantage by taking note of how prevalent this is. It may be indicative of how important Greek life is on campus and how strongly that affects social groups. You decide what is the ideal situation. Perhaps you have legacy to Phi Mu and know you want to be part of that social scene. Maybe you want to avoid Greek life as much as possible. With either of these ideas, remember to be open-minded. You’ll be amazed at how your views may change once you are situated.
Is the school’s technology updated? If you are into design or architecture, will they have the proper software? You may even want to ask a current student or professor if students are forced to buy certain technology. Moreover, make sure the library and other study areas are equipped with functional, current computers because even if you have your own laptop, you never know when you’ll need to depend on the university’s amenities.
You can usually find these in the student center and they will be revealing in two ways. Firstly, they will most likely advertise events on campus, which can give you a sense of what is happening there other than class (and let’s be real, that stuff is just as if not more important). Make sure there are fun and inexpensive events on or near campus. Secondly, student-written articles will shape your image of the student body. Are the articles mostly political? Are there music reviews in line with your personal taste? Do the students focus too much on hook up culture and drinking? Student-published works can be snapshots of the student body, but of course they do not represent every individual. While I believe there is a niche for almost everyone almost everywhere, campus-wide trends will have an influence on your experience and therefore you should take the time to consider them.
College tours are often based on vibes. You see a gorgeous campus, smiling faces, and free water bottles and all of sudden, you’ve fallen in love (bae, is that you?). While positive feelings are really telling during a campus tour, it is important to look at more specific parts of the trip. Keep these in mind when you’re walking around and it’ll be easier to picture yourself at that school. The rest is up to you! Good luck!
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