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How to Make the Most of Campus Visits

In the vast landscape of higher education in the United States, choosing the right college or university can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. With countless options available, it's easy for students to fall into the trap of FOMO, or fear of missing out. 

How do you ensure you're not overlooking the perfect fit for you? 

Here are some practical tips for starting your university search and maybe keeping the FOMO at bay along the way.

Identifying Your Priorities

The first step in building your university list is also probably the hardest – identifying what matters most to you. This can mean dialing in on factors like campus location, campus size, academic programs, extracurricular opportunities, and campus culture. 

While every aspect is important, what holds the most significance for you personally? 

Understanding your priorities will guide you in creating a list of potential schools that align with your values and goals. 

One valuable tool for this process is Corsava, a platform designed to help students clarify their preferences and narrow down their options based on individual priorities.

Early Exploration: Just Get Out There and Visit

For students embarking on the university search early in their high school career, exploring nearby campuses can provide valuable insights. Plan visits to universities within driving distance, regardless of whether you envision attending them in the future. Exposure to diverse campus environments—from large public universities to small private colleges—can help you discern what resonates with you.

Rather than fixating on a particular school's prestige or ranking, focus on experiencing different communities and campus cultures. These early visits serve as a foundation for understanding your preferences and narrowing down your options later on.

Unless You Can Time Travel, Utilize Virtual Tours

The prospect of visiting every potential school on their list is daunting, if not completely impossible. Virtual tours offer a convenient alternative, allowing students to explore campuses from the comfort of their homes. 

Platforms like YouVisit and Campus Tours provide immersive experiences that replicate the on-campus visit.

Utilize virtual tours to eliminate schools that don't meet your criteria and prioritize visits to those that remain on your shortlist. While virtual exploration may lack some of the charm of an in-person visit, it's an effective way to narrow down your options efficiently.

When You Do Visit, Make It Official

When possible, prioritize official campus visits to your top-choice schools. Sign up for information sessions, campus tours, and interviews offered through the university’s website versus just popping over to a campus to walk around. These university-led options are often led by current students, and they offer firsthand insight into the university experience. 

Here’s another thing. These visits don’t just give you valuable information; they also serve as “demonstrated interest” at campuses where this might be a factor in admission. 

Plus, when it comes time to write essays and the university you visited asks, “Why are you choosing to apply to our amazing school?” you will have an answer that shows you have taken the time to fully understand your motivation. 

Before you visit, go over the things that matter most to you in a university campus again. If you have specific questions that you are hoping to have answered or mysteries you are hoping to uncover, write them down. When  you are on your official tour in an information session, ask!

Navigating the university search process can be overwhelming, but through a thoughtful and strategic approach, you can overcome FOMO. Whether you're exploring campuses in person or virtually, prioritizing your preferences and making meaningful visits will guide you toward the right decision.

Remember, the journey to finding your ideal university is as much about self-discovery as it is about exploration. 

Trust the process, stay open-minded, and embrace the opportunity to find your place in the academic world.

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