As we approach the end of January, it’s time for high school juniors to be thinking about college visits for the spring. Visits usually entail an information session led by an admission officer as well as a tour led by one or more of the college’s tour guides.
The information sessions will typically cover the logistics of how to apply, averages for GPA and test scores, highlights regarding the school’s more popular majors, an honors program, study abroad opportunities and housing. In fact, visit enough colleges and you will see a basic pattern of information.
Tours on the other hand can land anywhere on the spectrum from amazing to boring. When you go on college tours, the tour guides will talk a lot about student life such as how you can get involved, clubs you can join, sporting events you can attend, and their favorite things to do on campus.
It’s the college experience and you should take it all in. But, what about academics?
Information sessions will mention certain majors or will delve into the philosophy behind the college’s core curriculum. Tour guides may talk about a certain professor or a class but how will you know if the academic environment is right for you?
This is where you have to be a little proactive and ask about sitting in on a class.
Not all colleges will allow it – in some cases, space may be limited, an exam is scheduled to be given or the college only offers special classroom visit programs for admitted students in the spring of their senior year such as the University of Connecticut’s “Husky For A Day” program. Either way, it is ALWAYS worth asking the admissions office if it’s a possibility.
Sitting in on a class is a great way to get a feel for what the students are like, how they and professors interact with one another, the technology that’s being used, and the pace and style of classroom instruction not to mention the size of a classroom.
If you are going to ask to sit in on a class, here’s a few tips to help you along:
- Call the admissions office several weeks in advance with your request to give them enough time to make the arrangements.
- Arrive on time (preferably a few minutes early) and plan on staying for the entire class.
- Introduce yourself to the professor so they know who you are and why you are there. Be sure to thank them for allowing you as a guest in their classroom.
- Turn off your cell phone or shut the ringer off. Your attention should be on the class, not your phone.
Obviously this is just one way to get a deeper, more intimate look at a college. But it’s one you should absolutely investigate if you have any concerns about the academic environment.
If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.