College Search Strategies
Portola Valley, CA
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College Search Strategies Blog

The Value of the Campus Visit

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting several colleges and universities in Oregon! It was my first trip to the state and my first trip to see some pretty well-known and popular colleges for students from northern California. I have heard about these schools for years--even had students apply to them!--but I had never seen the campuses with my own eyes. 

When I talk to parents and students about college visits, it is sometimes difficult to stress how important actually setting foot on a campus can be! With internet accessibility and student blogs... plus the lists of best colleges that can be found online, in books and in magazines... even on Facebook... it is hard to imagine what the value of physically seeing the campus is. I have to tell you, my experience this weekend was eye-opening for me! For no other reason than, now I can tell students and their families about these colleges first-hand. I feel so much more informed! 

I had a good idea of what to expect, and actually I do think I have steered students towards the right colleges that fit their personalities, goals, and academic interests. BUT. The big surpise was how much I liked the colleges from the perspective of the buildings, the layouts, the dorms, the dining halls, club rooms, study spaces, libraries... the mood of the students... the welcoming atmosphere of the admissions offices... the overall FEEL of the campus of each college and university I visited! 

I'm sure you can tell by my blogs, that I LOVE LOVE LOVE college campuses! I really do! I love seeing students engaged in discovering themselves. But I think I also love what I learn about myself when I'm visiting a campus:  How I like the students around me, or how I can figure out my way around, or how I think I would fit in if I were a student headed to college again.... So much of what we learn when we visit a campus are the intangibles: the little things we see that will comfort and guide us, challenge us, stretch and push us. 

When a student has the understanding of how to fit in, contribute, and what will be gained from a university, I believe the application then can reflect that--which in turn helps an admissions team see, all things being equal, that this student knows why a particular college is truly a good match.