There are two types of college visits that Prospective Student Athletes (PSA’s) may participate in:
Unofficial visits may take place at any time beginning as early as 9th grade and as often as you like. These visits are entirely paid for by the family/player.
Official visits which may only take place after July 1st of the beginning of a student’s senior year. Official visits are strictly monitored in accordance with NCAA rules and regulations. These are typically paid for by the school and currently you are only allowed 5.
College Admission Representatives at Your School
In addition to visiting college campuses, many students meet with college representatives at their school. These visits provide students with valuable opportunities to hear first-hand information about curriculum, campus facilities, student housing and organizations, as well as about admission requirements. Check with you high school counselor for information about college representatives visiting your school.
Most cities schedule college fairs in the fall and the spring. These fairs offer students access to representatives from a wide array of institutions in one central location during a concentrated period of time. Typically the format is designed for students to stop by specific tables, to sign-up for the college/universities mailing list, and to ask questions of the representatives.
Visit The Campus
The purpose of a campus visit is to allow students and families a deeper look at colleges of interest. Reference books and guidebooks provide the statistics but the campus visit provides the “feel”. The Information Session Depending on the size of the institution, the time of year, and other circumstances, this presentation may be a one-on-one conversation with an admissions representative, a coach, or a presentation to a large group. This session almost always concludes with time for questions and answers. Some campus tours consist of a single family; others consist of ten families. The guide may be a current/former student, a coach, or an admissions officer. Since the tour is an opportunity for the college to show you what it wants to show you, it is important that you also leave time to explore the campus on your own. Buy a soda in the student center and observe the people and their activities. And be sure to stop students and ask them what they like and dislike about the school. You’re likely to hear a lot of valuable information that you won’t hear from coaching and admissions staff.
Tips on Planning a Visit
- Institutions have different visiting procedures; some colleges may have limited appointment slots or specific tour/presentation times.
- Schedule your appointment as soon as possible.
- Tell your college counselor when you are planning a trip. You may receive important suggestions specific to you and she/he is always interested in your process and progress.
When Do I Visit?
The campus visit is an important aspect of the college selection process. During these visits students attempt to determine whether a particular institution is a good match. Determine the purpose –there are three distinct phases:
- If you are just starting out, you are trying to determine which style to consider.
- If you know your parameters, you are trying to decide where to apply.
- If you have been accepted, you are trying to make a final decision.
After all the research, internet, and guidebook comparisons, the visit brings each campus to life. Many families take advantage of vacation time to make some campus visits, while others may choose to visit during the school year when college classes are in session. Some students find that initial campus visits help them to narrow the list of schools to which they apply. A second visit may help with making a final decision. Whatever the specific timeline, there is no substitute for a campus visit.
Three Types Of Unofficial Visits
- Drop-in: This is the visit during which most students do their “shopping”. Students participate in a group information session, take a group tour, and make contact with the admissions officer and coach, either by signing in or by having a brief conversation.
- Individual informational appointment: Similar to drop-in but requires more preparation since an admissions representative or coach takes the time to meet with you personally. They are trying to measure your interest in his/her college andto other specific information.
- Interview: Sometimes for a scholarship competition, sometimes for admissions purposes, this visit is more evaluative than the first two options and it requires the most preparation.
The Initial Call: (Questions You Might Ask)
- Is the appointment individual or group? (preparation will differ for each)
- When are the tour and presentation times? (often 10:00 am and 2:00 pm)
- Will you send me directions to the campus?
- Are there special parking areas?
- May I sit in on a class?
- May I talk to the coach/faculty member? (remember that coaches cannot talk officially with a prospective student until after July 1 following the 11th grade year)
- Many colleges follow up with a confirmation letter and map of the campus.
Key Questions: Use these questions to develop your own
- How are you treated?
- Are the people kind, helpful, informed?
- How diverse is the campus population?
- Do you see the students and teachers interacting? What are the “hot” issues on campus?
- Which student activities are most popular?
- What issues does the student newspaper address?
- What is on the bulletin boards?
- Is the campus well maintained?
- Is the campus safe?
- What about transportation to off-campus events?
- What are the housing options?
- What are the dining options?
- What is the surrounding community like?
- Use your answers to determine:
- Would you feel comfortable on this campus?
- Would you be challenged on this campus?