“Oh, The Places You’ll Go” – College Visits, Yes or No?


Students should look at a variety of colleges to figure out what they like about them: size, available majors and minors, diversity,, distance from home and much more.

Bella Angell, Editor-in-Chief

The children’s book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss is a popular gift to those who are graduating from high school. It talks about many different opportunities for a person’s future. After graduating high school, a young adult can begin a career, obtain technical training or head to college. Choosing a college comes long before graduation, and there are many resources available to help students make that decision. One way is to visit different colleges.

Visiting colleges has pros and cons that future students should be aware of before making any arrangements. The optimum time to visit schools in a high school career would be during junior year or at the beginning of senior year. This is so that the student has a feel for the school and can make an educated decision about whether to apply Early Decision – a definite commitment to that college; Early Action – applying early without commitment; or Regular Decision.

The first thing to consider is when to visit: summer, weekend or weekday? College tours during the summer, while not crowded, may not give a real feel for student life due to the lack of students on campus. A weekend may be a good time to visit because it would reveal whether or not the college is a commuter school, where most of the kids go home on the weekends. The drawback of weekend visits is that not all areas of a campus are open, including classrooms. At some institutions, there are preview days on the weekend where they give guided tours around the campus and provide access to all areas. Lastly, weekdays allow students to see life on campus at the price of missing school; however, this absence will be excused if the student completes a form and turns it in to the front office (NFHS seniors are allowed up to 4 excused absences for college visits).

Some pros of a college visit are that a student becomes familiar with the campus. A potential student can see how big the campus is and how to navigate it. When touring a campus, the amenities available to students, such as the library, tutoring centers, gym facilities and café/restaurant facilities, can be shared. A guided tour can provide the opportunity to talk to people working in the various administrative offices on campus, specifically admissions, financial aid, student life and college professors. By visiting a college, one may have the chance to interact with current students and discover information about the school that may not be in a brochure or on the school’s social media. It can give potential students a real experience for what student life is like on the campus.

The cons of a college visit can first be found in an organized visit. With a prearranged visit, a potential student is guided by a campus team, which may limit the perception of the school. The team may only reveal what they believe is necessary and important information. This can lead to idealistic expectations. The Welcome Center does not hand out t-shirts, lunch and cookies every day. It is their job to make the school look good for admissions purposes. The flip side is that the school may be the number one choice for the student but something may go wrong and make the student question their choice.

The most important thing for a student visiting colleges to know is to be prepared. Understand that one visit should not make or break a college on their list. It was on the list for a reason, and the visit should either affirm the choice or reject it based on a complete picture of the school. Ask questions, take notes, picture yourself at the school and ask yourself : “Do I fit in here?”

And remember that Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

An excellent source of information about everything related to high school and college is “Grown and Flown,” and you can access the website here.