A college’s website provides general information about academics, student life, financial aid and other useful material. But it lacks the personal touch to make an informed decision about which college will be the right fit. The benefits college visits afford are invaluable.
Many colleges offer both in-person and virtual visits, as well as a variety of resources to aid your decision process.
“One of the biggest things it gives students is a chance to see the space,” said Andrew Carter, BJU university host. “Lots of times you can understand information about what your major might be or what options might be available before you come somewhere, just by reading online. But actually seeing the space can help you connect the dots for what’s actually there.”
By visiting in person, you can walk the campus, sit in on a class, feel the mattress in a residence hall room, speak with current students and taste the food options. You can put yourself in the shoes of a student attending that college. And because everything about a prospective college won’t appear online, stopping by to see the real thing will be worth your time.
Said Carter: “You’re going to stumble across things that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise that will open up new opportunities and doors for you.” Perhaps the college has organized volunteer efforts, a new piece of equipment for your program or unofficial student organizations that the public doesn’t know about.
“You’ll discover something like our Center for Leadership Development that has all sorts of resources for developing leaders on campus,” added Carter. “You’ll see something like our Academic Resource (Center) that has resources for students coming in — everything from a writing center to technology resources. We have 3D printers, Microsoft HoloLens and other incredible tools like that that are free for you to use as a student that you won’t have read about on the website.”
College Up Close
One way to maximize your college visit is through the University’s College Up Close events. According to Carter, “College Up Close is a two-day experience built to give you a taste of what college life is like here at BJU.” The schedule includes a campus tour, chapel participation, exploring classes and a behind-the-scenes look at theatre productions with other high school students like you.
“We’ve got two days of programming built out to give you both specific content related to what your interests are — both your major and the ways you want to get involved in college — and more general content that is built to help you understand how many more options there are in college that you may not have even known about yet,” Carter said.
Though you’re still in high school, the value of relationships with both faculty and other students “can smooth out the process for coming in as a freshman the following year,” Carter said. Creating connections with students in your program or others attending College Up Close can shape your college experience and ease nerves during the first few days of classes.
See Also: College Up Close: Is It Worth It?
If visiting during the school year doesn’t work with your schedule, consider arranging a summer or virtual visit.
“If you want an in-depth, almost behind-the-scenes look, coming in the summer months is great for that flexibility,” Carter said. With classes ending and most students traveling home for the summer, the campus will be almost vacant. While touring during this time allows the freedom to linger and explore, remember: you won’t get a feel for true college life.
“Virtual visits are great because they’re quick and flexible. You can be wherever you might be in the world — you can be on vacation, you can be at home, you can be at school — and still take a peek into what life is like here at BJU,” Carter said. Virtual visits are one-on-one experiences that easily fit into a schedule or around other obstacles that bar an in-person visit.
However, virtual college visits lack the hands-on experiences that in-person visits provide. According to Carter, a virtual visit “doesn’t give you a chance to swivel your head around and see whatever your eye can see.” Instead, he recommends a combination of both types with the virtual visits functioning as more of a follow-up, connections builder after an in-person visit.
A college visit can help you decide which college is right for you. By experiencing the various aspects of campus life and academic program, you can make an informed decision with your best interests in mind.
“Visit as many colleges as you can before you start college, because again, the more you visit, the more you will see things that you didn’t even know were options for college experiences,” Carter said. “And you can use the things you pieced together from different campus visits to craft your ideal college experience and choose a school that best matches that.”
For more information about visiting BJU, see bju.edu/visit.