If you’re considering whether to go on a college visit, paid or unofficial, put aside any reservations. You’re always better off going.
Students who make visits before applying tend to enroll more often than those who apply without visiting, so schools keep track of who comes. If college officials think you might not be serious about going there, your admission letter might just wind up with somebody else. Plus, the only way to find out whether a school is a good fit for you is to see it for yourself. But don’t go without a plan.
Take a tour
Coaches will show you around the athletic facilities, but don’t forget to pop into the admissions office and ask to take a campus tour, too. Remember, most of your time at school will be spent outside the lines.
“Make sure you see everything you are capable of seeing,” says Oklahoma softball player Keilani Ricketts. Look at dorm rooms, cafeterias and libraries. Don’t base your decision just on the sport and its facilities. Think about whether you like the campus.
“When you go on a visit,” says Notre Dame wide receiver Barry Gallup, “you want to take your sport out of it and say, ‘Could I see myself here if I wasn’t playing?’ ”
Meet with coaches and admissions officers, talk to students walking through the quad, pull a professor aside. Ask everyone anything and everything. Don’t worry about being a pest: Asking questions shows that you’re serious about learning more about the school.
“The best questions,” says Katie Holmes, catcher on the Nicholls State (La.) softball team, “are sports-related when talking to your coach, but also ask about the campus itself. What building is that? Are professors understanding of the needs of a student-athlete? Is there a tutoring center? Are there health services in case you get sick? Do you need a car? How far away are the dorms?”
Be a little skeptical
Schools want you to apply. It boosts their admissions statistics and increases their selectivity rating. So when you’re on a visit — especially an official one—remember that most people you talk to are selling something: their college.
And if you visit the day of a big game, think about coming back for a weekday overnight. You can learn a lot about a school when the spotlights are off. “You might go on a game day and it’s really exciting,” says Gallup, “but that’s only a few days out of the year like that. Can you see yourself there the rest of the year?”
We know, being courted on campus can be a heady thing. Coaches squire you around, players want to meet you. But make sure you don’t get too caught up. “The number one thing you shouldn’t do on a visit is drink,” says Holmes. “Go out with the team if you can, have fun, but don’t be an idiot.”
She’s right. At this point, all you’ve got is your reputation and if you mess up, the coach is sure to hear about it.
“The most important thing,” Bowdoin athletic director Jeff Ward says, “is that you pick a school you’re comfortable at whether you play or not.” Holmes agrees. “You’re at school for nine months of the year. If you aren’t comfortable, those nine months seem like a lifetime.” So explore the campus, talk to everyone, ask your questions. Walk away knowing you learned everything you could about a school. And don’t commit unless you think it’s a good fit.
For further information on recruiting or to schedule a meeting please contact our Director of College Recruiting, Nick Greiwe, at 513-237-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.