What's the best way to research colleges?...VISITING!
Here are ten ways to make sure that you're getting the most out of these all important visits:
1. Sit down with your parents and craft a list of colleges of interest. If you're not sure where to go, plan local visits and try to find a mix of different types of colleges (large, small, urban, rural, research, liberal arts, etc.).
2. Call or check online for tour times or to reserve a spot on the tour and information session (it's a good idea to reserve this at least two weeks in advance).
3. Call ahead to see if the college offers on-campus interviews and arrange one. I recommend interviewing during the summer since it is often difficult to return to campuses during the fall.
4. Attend a class and schedule to meet with a professor in your area of interest.
5. Don’t be shy! Stop and ask students what their favorite and least favorite thing is about their college.
6. Explore the areas of campus (and the surrounding area) where you think you will spend the most time. Visit the dining hall, library and student center. Listen to students talk. Do they look happy/sad/excited?
7. Take notes and pictures during your visit -- some colleges can begin to look and sound alike after several days of visiting, not to mention weeks later when you are constructing your final college list or writing essays about each college.
8. Write down the names and contact information of admissions officers, professors, and students that you've met. After your visit write them a thank you for talking to you. When application reading season comes--admissions officers are more likely to remember you because of this gesture.
9. Take time to explore alone without your parents. Have your parents explore and take notes as well. They may note something important that you didn’t see. Compare your notes.
10. At the end of your visit, stop and take stock of the day and ask yourself one simple question: DO I FEEL COMFORTABLE HERE? If the answer is YES, it might just be a great fit for you!