May 11, 2011
Real Life College Student Blog: The Importance of Visiting College Campuses
Earlier this year, the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) called out to college and high students interested in blogging their college experiences and lessons learned in order to offer future students of higher education first hand facts and advice from today’s real life college setting. If you are a current college student or high school student preparing to enter college and are interested in blogging for UHEAA, please send an email to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and we will gladly send you details.
Today’s installment of the “Real Life College Student” blog series comes from Zachary Stickney of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Zach entered the college world through the Upward-Bound pre-college program and is currently a senior studying Political Science. For an in-depth description of Zach’s transition to college and his college experience, check out this blog from WSU, “Once-Struggling High School Student Excelling in College.” We hope you enjoy this week’s blog on College Campus Visits!
To begin, I’d like to offer a hearty greeting to all the wonderful people of the incredible inedible Internet. The very fact that you’ve found this blog, no matter how you’ve come across it, shows that you are one of three types of people:
- You are a young man/woman entering your final years of high school and are starting to seriously think about your options for college,
- You are a current college student looking for ways to enhance your already amazing experience with higher education,
- You are an elderly person who has accidentally stumbled upon this site and are currently cursing your computer as “technological devilry.”
Though I have great respect for my elders, the information found in this blog will unfortunately be of very little use to most of you, unless you too are considering continuing your education. If that’s the case, welcome aboard!
Digressions aside, this week I would like to discuss the importance of visiting a college campus before coming to a final decision. By now it’s likely that you’re getting all kinds of literature in the mail from a variety of different colleges across the country. No matter which school you look at, more than likely each pamphlet is telling you how the school it represents is “a perfect fit” for you or has “just the right educational atmosphere” for you to learn.
Though these pamphlets and letters are certainly useful in helping you evaluate your options, they aren’t necessarily the best way for you to come to a decision about a future college. Finding a college that’s truly just right for you is an extremely important decision that will likely take a great deal of time and energy. But if done correctly, that time and energy will be very well spent.
There are a number of things to consider when selecting a college or university that goes beyond the pamphlet, into the incredible and adventurous world of visiting a university:
1. Location, Location, Location: the location of your future university is one of the most important factors in your decision making process. Is the university located in an urban, suburban, or rural setting? If you decide to go to school out of state, will you be too far from the supportive atmosphere of your home? What activities will be available in the area on those “rare” occasions when you aren’t hitting the books? The atmosphere of the university isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to your education. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it can be said that it takes a village to create a great college experience.
2. Class Sizes/Sitting in on Classes: Though pamphlets and school websites can give you some general idea about the population and class sizes of different universities, it’s important to take some time to sit in on classes you expect to take in order to take in the atmosphere completely. Larger universities often boast small class sizes, but more often than not this is only for upper division classes. This isn’t always a problem, but if you feel like you need a smaller class and access to a professor for your general education courses, you might want to consider either attending a smaller university or making sure that the university you hope to attend offers easy access to tutoring or supplemental instruction. In addition, though there are a number of websites out there like “Rate My Professors” which can give you an idea of what professors in your major might be like, the best way to learn what to expect is to sit in on a class or two and see how things are done firsthand.
3. Extracurricular Activities: Another thing you should consider when selecting a college is what kind of extracurricular activities are available. As my fellow blogger Cole Spicker discussed earlier (Real Life College Student Blog: Internships), being aware of internship or volunteer opportunities on campus is a great way to bolster your resume in a really fun and informative way. It’s also important to be aware of jobs available near campus, or perhaps even on campus, and what experience and funding they might provide. Finally, many universities have study abroad opportunities. If you’re studying a foreign language or culture, studying abroad can be a great way to get hands-on experience with whatever you’re studying. And, of course, you’ll earn college credit while you’re at it!
4. Housing: Finally, if you’re planning on moving out of the house for the first time, finding the perfect place to live is going to be just as important as finding the right college. Making sure you have a place to kick back and relax, study, or have fun with a few friends is going to help keep you stress-free and focused. Do not take this lightly! There are going to be a lot of options, both on campus and off campus, so it’s important to take a good look at what’s available and make sure you choose a place that’s right for you.
This, of course, is just a very short list of the factors to consider in your college. But the important thing to know is that finding the perfect school usually isn’t an overnight process. In addition, it’s also important to find a few schools that you like on the off-chance that you aren’t accepted into that super-selective school of your dreams. I mean, not that that would happen to you or anything. I’m just saying.
Well, that’s all for now, folks. Be sure to tune in next week when we’ll be discussing Advanced Placement (AP) and Concurrent Enrollment (CE) courses and how they can not only better prepare you for college, but also help you kick-start your education and help ease your journey to the holy grail of education: your college graduation.
If you have any questions or comments for Zachary, please add them using the comment box below and he will gladly reply.Posted by: blee
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