I made my first college visit when I was 10. Two of my older sisters went to Iowa State at the time, and I spent the weekend in their dorm. I ate from the vending machine, slept in a loft bed, met their friends, and took in the campus sights. It was so cool. This was where I pictured myself going to college.
First impressions are lasting. Fast forward eight years and I was also going to Iowa State, living in the same dorm complex where I’d first visited my sisters.
Did I make other campus visits? Explore my options? Sort of. I visited friends at other universities—like Drake—where I’d applied, but didn’t officially visit any of them. ISU is where I’d pictured myself for years; it was hard to imagine myself anywhere else.
Looking back, I didn’t make a bad decision by any means. But it probably would have been smarter of me to open my mind to other options.
As you start making campus visits, be sure to keep an open mind. Maybe you’re set on going to a nearby school, or one your siblings, parents, or friends attended. If so, I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone. Consider trying to visit several different schools (especially if you’re starting the process early). Don’t automatically rule out a small or large school on that basis alone, without at least taking a look.
Consider a variety of factors when you’re visiting the school: programs they offer in your major, what campus culture is like, what extra-curricular activities are available, what the surrounding community has to offer. Be sure to schedule visits with an advisor in your major and with the financial aid office, if you have college financing questions.
For those of you who’ve recently made campus visits, do you have any advice to offer?