Unsure which college to choose? Try visiting

By on January 8, 2012

Photo: Students stroll across the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s main quad on the way to class. Photo by Jessica Corbett

by Alex Vickery, Kaneland Krier Editor
Contributions by John Pruett

Kaneland—Senior Veronica Seawall was in search of a very specific major: animal behavior. She visited Eastern Kentucky University, the only school in the entire Midwest that offers that major.

“I did research for one and a half years. There were two other possible schools, but one was in California, and one was in Florida,” Seawall said.

Like Seawall, many Kaneland students have gone on a college visit or are going to visit soon. Counselor Andrew Franklin recommends going on one or two college visits every year, if possible, starting freshmen year and continuing up until senior year.

A tour is a smart way to assure a student will see a variety of places on the college campus. Most universities have information on their website about upcoming tours or how to set one up.

“It’s good to visit a large school, a medium school and a small school, just to see how it feels to attend different size schools,” Franklin said. “It’s also good to see a local college because it’s close and easy to visit, your dream school and a junior college.”

On most tours, a student can see places such as the dorms, cafeteria, classrooms, library, bookstore, athletic facilities and more. Some colleges also offer opportunities to stay overnight or to shadow a student.

“If you’re torn between two colleges, stay overnight, shadow a student and sit in on one or two classes,” Franklin said.

Other things to do on a college visit, as recommended by the College Board, are to participate in a group information session at the admissions office, read the student newspaper or other student publication and to talk to a coach in a chosen sport.

Senior Tyler Heinle recently went on a college visit to Elmhurst College to talk to the baseball coach there.

“It was nice, big and very spacious,” Heinle said.

The College Board also advises walking or driving around the community surrounding the campus and get a feel of what it would be like to live there for four years.

“You’re going to get a good feel of whether or not you like it,” Franklin said.

Seawall says she is nervous, but still very excited for next year.

The number one thing Franklin recommends is to research. Students can go to college fairs and college research websites such as www.campustours.com, which has YouTube videos, photos and website links.

10 things high school students should ask while on a college visit
Ask about and understand the admissions criteria when going on a visit, Stephanie Schiller, a Northern Illinois University Admissions Office representative, said.

Talk to a professor of a class that interests you while on a campus tour, according to Counselor Andrew Franklin.

Ask what the options are if you choose to major or double major in a certain field. For example, Schiller said students could ask questions like, “Would the course load be substantial for what I’m interested in?”

The most important question to ask while on a college visit is whether or not outside scholarships affect the amount of financial aid a school can provide, Franklin said.

Be sure to know the college resources, Schiller said.

Ask to sit in on a class of a subject that interests you in order to become more familiar with the university’s teaching style, Franklin said.

Go over transportation options, especially for incoming freshmen who cannot bring cars, according to Schiller.

Ask what the advantages and disadvantages of going to college far away are, said Schiller.

Spend the night in the dorm to help familiarize yourself with the college, according to Franklin.

Participate in a group information session at the admissions office, according to Franklin.

For more information on college visits, visit www.kaneland.org/KHS/guidance and click on the College Planning link.