When my mom first brought up the idea to visit three colleges of interest, I thought it would be a waste of time and money. What if I don’t get accepted? Will I be throwing money out the window on expensive plane tickets? However, now I realize neither of these concerns were valid. Visiting colleges is a key factor in deciding where one would like to study.
Where the college of interest is located has a vast impact on why you like or dislike the school. Factors include directional culture, geography, fashion, the values of the town or state, and personal health. When I went on my trip to visit colleges, I was taking internal notes of every last detail. I made sure to remember how long the drive was from the airport to the town. We hiked local popular trails. I was always thinking about if my allergies were triggered, and observed if the weather was comfortable. I walked the streets of downtown to see what people did for fun, and looked in coffee shops for a board postered with community activities and events. I tried my hardest to meld into the culture of each town. Evidently, four years is a long time, and tens of thousands of dollars is a lot of money to be spending unhappily.
In addition to investigating if the community was a match, I wanted to know if the values of the school were compatible with mine. If you are going to school to get every last drop of information and you want a job straight out of college, I strongly suggest meditating on these next ideas. Different schools have different values. Universities are broken up into multiple smaller colleges inside of the university. Some are known for their amazing programs, but what I learned on this trip was that each university values specific degree programs.
For example, I visited three different campuses: California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Belmont University, and University of Nevada Las Vegas. Each of them obviously valued one college more, which could be detected by the enrollment in that specific college, and the advertisement in the university. For example, Belmont had a state-of-the-art music business program unlike any other in the country. This makes tuition extremely high, but once again, it is the only one in the nation. While Cal Poly is ranked number three in the country for their engineering program, getting to know professors is hard because of high enrollment and choosing classes is competitive.
My last point is the philosophy of teaching at the school. Cal Poly has a very different teaching style compared to the other two schools I visited. The phrase “Learn By Doing” is plastered everywhere on campus. This motto is something that Cal Poly structures all their classes around and boasts as the reason for their high post-grad employment rate. As opposed to UNLV where there was no promotion of their instructional philosophy. Make sure that your college has your best interest in mind.
Choosing your future college can sound very overwhelming. Though, getting to know the area, the people, and the school’s values cannot only help settle your nerves but get you excited for your future. Investing money into a college tour now will ensure the location of your future education is a match.