Making the Most of Your Campus Visit
if you will be applying later this year and want to make an informed target list, it is always best to visit colleges to get an idea of what to expect.
When visiting a campus, make sure to attend the organized information session and official tour. At some colleges, you have to schedule specific sessions and tours in advance, usually through the university website. Make sure to check schedules and reservation procedures before you head to campus.
Once you are at the information session, make sure to sit near the front of the room so that you don’t miss any important information. Also, have a list of specific questions prepared so that you get all the information you need to make a good choice. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions but avoid asking overly specific questions about your situation in an open forum. Instead, save those questions for when you meet with the person responsible for recruiting and admitting foreign students.
You should also make sure to visit the university’s office of international student affairs. This is the place you will come with questions on visas, travel to your home country, tuition/fees questions or general issues related to being a foreign student on campus. It is a great resource and you should feel comfortable with their answers and approach to handling complicated scenarios. And, this office may be able to introduce you to current students from India whom you can meet and ask more specific questions about life on campus.
When participating in a guided walking tour of campus, again, make sure to be bat the front of the group so that you don’t miss out on any interesting nuggets or details. At the dormitormies, ask to see the bathrooms, laundry and kitchen facilities and study areas in addition to the dorm rooms. And, if your tour doesn’t include the academic building where you will be spending most of your time, make sure to stop by later on your own. Finally, go to the student center to see how students spend their free time.
If you have already been admitted, there may be a chance that you can do an overnight stay with a current freshman. This type of opportunity will help you understand what it is like to live on campus. Make sure to ask in advance.
I always suggest having a meal in the main dining hall. By actually eating there, you will get a better idea of the food options available. Most colleges are now fairly accommodating to vegetarians but it is best to experience that for yourself. Also, figure out where the closest grocery stores and markets are located in the event you would prefer to cook for yourself.
Finally, even if you don’t have time for any of the above, take a moment to sit on a bench in the center of campus and get a feel for the community, pace and energy of the university. By simply observing life on campus for an hour, you will understand whether this place is for you or not.