Making the Most of It – Visiting a Friend at College
Congrats! your parents have finally agreed to let you visit your friend at college. While you should go with the intention of having fun, you can actually turn the trip into a reconnaissance mission to get the scoop on the school, campus life and what you do or don’t want in a college. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your combo business-and-pleasure trip!
Go on a weekend
Ideally, you’d arrive on a Thursday night so your friend is done for the day. This gives you the opportunity to eat dinner in the dining hall Thursday night and possibly attend a class with your friend on Friday or have coffee with a professor (if you contact them in advance).
Make sure your friend gets permission for you to tag along. Although you can easily blend in with a lecture hall of 150 students, there’s no “sneaking in” to a class with only 15 students whom the professor knows by name. You’ll also need to ensure you’re not going on an exam day.
Don’t go on an empty wallet. It’s a good idea to have some extra funds in case your car breaks down, or you need to catch a taxi because you lose your friend, or your “designated driver” becomes too intoxicated (or ditches you). It’s also polite to offer to take your host out to dinner or, at the very least, pay your own way when there’s a cost for food or events.
Don’t stay in the room the entire time. Take some time to explore campus, even if it’s alone. Be sure to visit the library, the athletic field house, the theater, several dorms and a few classrooms.
Read all about it
Pick up a college newspaper. You can read it when you’ve got some downtime or when you return home in order to get the lowdown on the school.
If you really like the school, you may want to have photos to reference as reminders once you start looking at other colleges down the road. It may also be good to start posting photos of your visit to demonstrate your informed interest on social media if you decide to apply.
Exchange contact information with other students. You’re bound to make friends during this visit, so why not ask to connect on social media or by exchanging phone numbers or emails? This is especially true if you meet someone majoring in something you’re considering yourself. You’ll be able to ask questions about classes, professors and program requirements.
Meet with a professor
For example, if you’ve wanted to be a reporter since you were in middle school, why not call in advance to try to set up coffee with a journalism professor? Outline some questions and bring some paper to take notes.
Most people like to talk about their experiences, so you’re probably not going to annoy your friend by asking what they like most about college, what they hate, their favorite things to do, how much sleep they get and what they were most afraid of about college before enrolling.
Your friend has invited you in hopes you’ll have a good time. Be respectful of their situation! Don’t beg them to skip class, expect them to entertain you every minute or do anything that might embarrass them or get them in trouble. On the flip side, hold your ground if they pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with! Dealing with peer pressure is a part of college life, so this is a good time to get some practice.