We’ll tell you time and again: visiting colleges is a must-do when deciding where to apply. You can read about schools online and you can hear from alumni, but until you set foot on campus, you won’t really be able to tell if you and that college belong together. That’s why it’s crucial to make the most of every visit—it’s more than just about seeing if the grounds are physically attractive. Here’s what else to look for:
1) Collaborative centers and institutes. Every college has dorms, dining halls, a library and academic buildings—but not every campus has designated areas where students and faculty can comfortably meet, network, get inspired and collaborate. Wherever you visit, inquire about these spaces. How many are there? Are they equipped with innovative meeting rooms and cutting-edge technology? (If you’re at Siena, ask us about Rosetti Hall; the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity; and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.)
2) Publications. Pick up a few hard copies of campus newspapers and magazines, as well as any local publications. These are key takeaways you can review back at home to learn more about the school and area, and get a sense of how you’d like living there.
3) Construction. Big dirt piles, big construction trucks, workers with hard hats. Think construction is just an eyesore? It’s actually a great sign. If they’re improving existing facilities or adding new ones, construction proves to you that the school has the drive and capital to keep getting better. That’s a college you want to attend.
4) What’s within walking distance. No matter how beautiful the campus is, you'll definitely want to get off campus and explore the surrounding area. Check out the restaurants, cafes, shops, parks and other non-campus spaces that are reachable by foot, if any. Ask your tour guide where students can almost always be found when they’re just off campus. (We’ll talk about Siena’s location here on the blog soon; our town is currently going through some exciting changes!)
5) Student pride. Take note of the students out and about as you tour. Groups of friends wearing college apparel and tossing around a football or studying outside can say a lot about the kind of community you’d be joining.