5 Ways to Explore College Campuses Before Your Official Visit
Official campus tours aren’t the only way for you to see college campuses. Throughout the year, colleges offer many programs for high school students. Plus, online virtual tours and social media provide an additional means to experience the campus. Here are five ways you can explore college campuses before you schedule an official visit or tour.
Most colleges offer some type of pre-college program for high school students in the summer. Programs can be daylong workshops or multi-week college class experiences. Check out colleges near you (or colleges you’re interested in attending) to see what pre-college programs they offer. During a pre-college experience, you’ll get to see the campus and even meet faculty who could become your professors.
Colleges across the country host various competitions for high school students. For example, Model Congress provides an opportunity for high school students to participate in simulations to discover how the government works. It’s a sort of competitive debate team experience. Competitions for Model Congress are held at universities such as American International College (MA), Columbia University (NY), Princeton University (NJ), the University of Pennsylvania, Yale (CT), Harvard (MA), and the College of William and Mary (VA).
Similarly, some regional competitions for students participating in FIRST LEGO League (a national program for students interested in robotics and technology) are held on college campuses. This year, some of the FIRST LEGO regional competitions are being held at the University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, Bradley University (IL), Xavier University (OH), Central Washington University and Lehigh University (PA).
Before or after your competition, take time to walk around the campus. Volunteers helping to host the event could be current students or professors, so feel free to ask them questions about the school.
Most college websites now have videos, photos, 3-D maps or interactive maps with pop-up virtual tour guides to give you a virtual tour of the campus. A virtual tour can give you a sense of how big a campus is (if there are lots of buildings, or just a few), what the dorms are like, and what classrooms or other inside spaces on campus are like.
Most colleges have social media accounts. And the students do, too. Search social media sites like Twitter or Instagram for keywords that include the college’s name you’re interested in. You can then see what students and others are saying. Colleges may also post various videos on YouTube, so you might be able to get a glimpse into some classrooms, dorms, labs or other campus facilities by watching videos.
Concerts or theater productions:
Many large colleges have big arenas for their sports teams, but between games they may host public events such as concerts. Other colleges may have auditoriums that host musicals, plays, band and choir concerts, and other shows. If a concert or show at the college interests you, attend the show. Before the show, walk around the campus or even grab a bite to eat at a restaurant on campus or in town to see what life there is like.
Of course, you’ll eventually want to schedule an official campus tour at a few of your top college choices, but these alternate ways to explore college campuses can give you insight before you’re ready to take that step.