There are many benefits of visiting a college in person and up close! A lot of my friends don't think it's important... but it is! You may find out that a college you LOVE isn't right for you after visiting the college, and that a college you thought you'd hate actually appeals to you more than any other! YOU get to find out first hand if it's right for you, and that's more valuable than anything...
It's completely free to do a college visit, no matter how big the school is or how many people are coming with you! I thought that we had to pay, but no! Schools want to encourage EVERYONE to visit their campus, so why would they charge for it? The only thing you have to pay for is transportation to get to the college. This may be tricky, since some colleges I'm interested in are on the east coast... west coast... midwest... south... but you need to decide which colleges you're REALLY interested in and then make the effort to go there. Start out with colleges in your state, that way it won't cost anything to visit and you can ease yourself into it.
Another thing that's free- the things the colleges give you! I got a free pair of headphones once... just for fun. (Free things like this might be more common at small schools, since they might not have buckets of people visiting.) Also-- all the information packets and handouts they give you. You get to keep them, and they're really helpful when looking for an overview of what the campus offers beyond what was heard on the tour itself.
Next, you get to meet an actual student-- they will act as your tour guide. This is really nice because meeting a student and talking to them is something you won't find on the internet. You can ask questions that only students would be able to answer, even the negatives of the college that they don't like (but then also the reasons the negatives are worth it; why they're staying because they love their school so much!). Don't be afraid of asking them questions, that's what they're there for! If you're nervous about asking questions in front of a group, wait until the group is walking through campus but the tour guide isn't talking (they can't talk all the time!) and then get to the front and ask your question. No one will be paying attention to what you're asking!
My mom explained this to me and it sounded really cheesy... but it's true. When you visit a college you can get the "feeling" where all of a sudden, you know you belong at this school. You feel comfortable on the campus and you can picture yourself in the classes. Now, this doesn't mean you have to rule out all colleges that give you this "feeling" since that school can still be a great school for you! And don't be worried if you don't get the "feeling," not all people do-- this doesn't mean NO college is right for you. Getting the "feeling" is just an added bonus to going on a campus tour, because you get to actually walk around campus and see what you could be experiencing for 4-5 years!
I hope this blog post convinced you to make that extra step and visit a campus in person, because it really is a great experience and it's invaluable. If you never go on any campus visits (or at least never see the campus, whether that be in person or in pictures, though the former is better) you may end up going to a school you don't feel right in!
Look forward to my video next Thursday on what to do now that you're on the campus and taking a tour. :)