The Importance of the College Visit

College visits may surprise you...

So how important is a campus visit to your top college choices?

I've been sharing throughout the past year about my oldest son's adventure in choosing a college. It's been a great experience for both of us. For myself, I've learned it's one thing to have worked with Christian colleges for many years, but a completely different thing when it comes to having my own son choose a school.

In this quarter's edition of our newsletter, I'd like to share about how important our college visit experience was to my son's final choice for college.

While I've always been a strong believer in the importance of college visits, I found out first hand how critical visiting the colleges of interest really is. Once you've narrowed your options down to your top two, three or even four schools, you absolutely should visit each one.

My son and I took a trip to visit his top two college choices. They were both Christian colleges that took us a plane ride or two to visit, but the time and effort was well spent. While each school in many ways would have been a fine choice, both of us believed that one school would be a better fit for him before we boarded the plane. As a matter of fact, I scheduled the trip to visit the school I felt would be of greater interest second. My thinking was that the first visit would just be a "warm-up" for the school that he would probably end up choosing.

At each school, we visited a business class, as that is his area of interest, we talked with a business professor, met with the coach for cross country, we went to chapel at each and he stayed overnight on campus with some guys on the cross country team at each school as well. We also met with admissions and had a tour of the campus while at each university. I would encourage anyone making college visits to plan to do the same things for each campus visit. That way, you can make a fair comparison and weigh the pros and cons for each school. The overnight stay in the dorms is particularly important, as this is an opportunity to see if you are a good fit for the types of students at the school. This also allows you to get to know the school through the eyes of real students. It's amazing what you may be able to learn at 10:00pm in a dorm room over a pizza with current students.

My son's decision came quickly as we pulled away from the second campus we visited. He had decided that the first Christian university we visited was the one for him. It became crystal clear that every facet of his visit was "better" or more comfortable for him at the first school. We both thought exactly the opposite would be the case before we made the trip. You can imagine my relief at his announcement as I agreed with his assessment and his reasons for the first school being a better choice for him.

It wasn't a matter of one school being a poor experience and the other being a positive one, rather it was an issue of which college best met his interest and his needs. It was an issue of where he felt the most comfortable. Another student may have felt the opposite during a visit to those same two schools.

I've felt for many years that it is very important to visit your colleges of interest, but having gone through this experience with my son, it showed me why this is so critical. Had we not visited both campuses, he may have never realized that there was a school that was a stronger fit for him than his top choice before he made the campus visits.

Take the time to visit your top college choices; I believe you'll be very glad you did!

Thom Seagren
The Christian Connector, Inc.
Christian College Grad, Class of 1987