Making the most out of college visits


Senior Grace Murphy visits the MSU Sparty statue during her college visit. Photo courtesy of Grace Murphy.

Zoe Sawdon, Staff Writer

Senior Hussein Murray eagerly opened up his email and saw several messages from college admissions counselors appear at the top of his screen. Ever since the SAT, Murray had been asking around and searching for information about the schools he was interested in, hoping to be ahead of the game when it was time to apply. Feeling somewhat apprehensive but also very excited, Murray was ready to begin the next step of the process: college visits.

As the school year picks up, RHS seniors are busy finalizing their decisions regarding which colleges to apply to. Perhaps one of the most important components of the college application process is taking tours of potential schools.

“It actually makes you start to realize, wow, I’m actually about to go to college,” said Murray. “. . . and this is where it starts to matter.”

It can be difficult to know how early to start looking at colleges, but Ms. Julie Hasse, a manager of Student Outreach and Content Strategy at Wayne State University, offered some expertise on easing into the college visit process.

“I think that getting exposure to universities and colleges at the earliest age is optimal—attending summer camps, athletic events and other family friendly events even in elementary and middle school is great for kids to get a visual as to what college is like,” Hasse said. “However, it is time to get a little bit more serious about looking at colleges as you get into high school. I would recommend that as a high school sophomore and especially as a junior, to start trying to take a few campus tours.”

Another important thing to consider is who you tour colleges with, whether you go alone, with friends or with family.

“My parents came with me,” said Murray. “If there was something I didn’t notice, they would’ve pointed it out to me. I thought it was really important to have them along for the ride.”

Especially when it comes to larger schools, the thought of exploring a college campus can be somewhat overwhelming. However, senior Grace Murphy shared some of the places she felt were most important to visit.

“I would tour a dorm, because that’s important, and just make sure they have good food, because food’s important,” Murphy said. “And every campus has its landmarks. Michigan State has the bell tower and the Sparty statue, and U of M has the diag. It’s not like those are going to determine if you go there, but it’s cool to see because they’re kind of part of the culture of the school.”

Hasse agreed that visiting dorms should definitely be a priority and mentioned several other locations on campus that students don’t want to miss.

“You should also make time to check out the student center and recreation center if those interest you,” Hasse said. “Other good places to note or ask about are the libraries and classrooms. Ask about class sizes and take note of some of the technology in the classrooms.”

Each person’s college visit will be different depending on their interests and what they hope to achieve in college, but getting a feel for the school’s atmosphere is important for all students to do during a campus tour.

“Say hello to people and see if they say hello back. Have lunch on campus or in the college town and see if if the city is somewhere you would like to live or spend much of your time in,” said Hasse. “I would even highly recommend coming back to campus for something other than a campus tour—ask your tour guide or admissions counselor what events they would recommend you come back for.”

Although it is important to take your time and consider if a campus is a good match for you, having fun and embracing college culture is also a huge part of the visit process.

“I liked just seeing the college and doing the shopping,” said senior Maddie Perkins. “I like getting spirit wear.”

Murphy enjoyed her overall experience too.

“Honestly, I like traveling, so getting to travel was fun,” Murphy said. “And then I liked hearing from current students about what they thought of the college itself too.”

College visits are a great way to get to know a potential school, and they offer a much different perspective than you may get from a website or a brochure. Murray perfectly captured the feelings he and many other seniors experienced while touring different schools.

I thought that [realizing college was approaching] was kind of nerve wracking in a sense,” he said. “But it was also in a way exhilarating knowing I was going to be a college student in a matter of months.”