What are some things that parents/students may not consider when visiting a college campus?
When visiting a college campus, prospective students (and their parents) most often inquire about one of three aspects of life on campus – classes, extracurricular activities and residence halls. While these constitute the bulk of a student's time in college, there are many details of college-life that are overlooked.
It’s important for students to consider less tangible aspects as well. Students should ask about the minute details that will cause them to love or hate their experience over the next few years. Is the food lousy? Do I have multiple food options? Is parking a nightmare? How strictly do they enforce it? Is the campus lively after dark? Are there safety concerns? Will the college meet my religious needs? How late are the gym and library open? Does the campus feel like
large? Does it feel small? Which do I prefer?
What are the most common mistakes they're likely to make on a group tour or in an interview for admission?
Many prospective students assume their parents will ask any important questions about campus, but what is important to a parent is often radically different from what is important to a student. I have found that many students are so enamored of the idea that they are going to college, they forget they still have a good deal of choice in the matter.
It’s important for students to remember that certain college campuses will fit their personalities better than others. Some students will have a more enjoyable and successful time at a state school or a community college rather than at an ivy league, regardless of talent or intelligence. The only mistake a student can make is to ignore what is best for himself/herself.
In a similar vein, the most common mistake for prospective students to make on a group tour or in an admissions interview is to forget that the admissions process is bilateral. While students have to in some ways "audition" in order to get accepted, the reverse is true as well. The school needs to attract students and convince them that their institution is worthy of attendance.
Prospective students, then, should be confident and sincere in asking tour guides and interviewers what unique benefits the school has to offer them. Confidence and sincerity have long been the keys to successful interviews.
How can students make the most of their time on campus?
The best way for students to use their time on campus is by taking time to explore the school and discover whether they like the feel and atmosphere. While tours are informative, much of this information can be found online or in brochures. Students should instead ask more probing questions of the tour guides, seeking their honest opinions on the pros and cons of the university.
Current students will often be candid in their responses, admitting to the drawbacks of the school. Once outside the purview of the "campus tour" students can often make a more genuine search for what the college is like.
One of the best ways students can also do this is through programs in which they spend the night with current students on campus. This allows prospective students to see behind the curtain, as it were. In doing so, however, students should remember that their experiences will be closely tied to the quality of their hosts.