Let me set up a little scenario for you: You have made your list of dream schools. You have applied to all of them, applied for scholarships, received your financial aid packets, and have narrowed it down to three schools. They all have your ideal major, they have each offered you a similar amount of financial aid, and none of them is too close or too far from home to really push you over the edge and get you to pick them. You have watched all of their videos on YouTube, read all of their student blogs, and feel like each school has good people who will help you learn and grow. You are stumped. Where do you go?
I will tell you where you should go. You should go to all three schools. Not as a student, but as a visitor. I attended a Christian college for four years and have worked at a two different Christian colleges. So often when I asked a student why they chose a particular school their answer was, “I visited and as soon as I stepped on campus, I just knew.” There is something about a campus visit that helps you understand a college in a way no printed piece or video can. Some places just feel like home.
Not to mention that most colleges set up incredible visit days or even visit weekends now. You are a high school kid. Fun should be part of life and these visit days and weekends are a blast. You get to stay the night on a college campus, meet some cool people, probably play some crazy games, check out the school cafeteria, maybe attend a sporting event, meet some of the faculty who oversee your desired major, and in general just get to feel the place out.
The campus visit is not the defining factor for everyone, but I know it is for some. It may even be that you visit and decide that the college you are visiting if definitely not for you. That is good information. Better to learn that now than week one of freshman year. Additionally, most high schools give excused absences if you are visiting a college. Missing school and taking a fun trip that helps you decide where to go to college? Sounds like a win-win to me.
Aaron Wilkinson is the Director of Admissions for Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. He got his M.A. in Intercultural Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary and his B.A. in Religious Studies from Gardner-Webb University. Prior to working for Wesley Seminary he worked for three years as the Coordinator of Admissions and Marketing for Asbury University’s Master of Social Work program.