Helpful Hints, Part 1: Campus Visit Tips

College Visits: Insights with Mitch Warren, Purdue Director of Admissions

When my daughter Sarah was a senior in high school, we, like most other families, were touring colleges. Being in the higher-ed biz, I was surprised my emotions; excited for her, a little sad for me.

One day, we were on a campus tour at a small(ish) private university, led by an outstanding tour guide who seemed to personally know everybody. Suddenly, Sarah said under her breath, “Let’s get outta here. I don’t want to go to a college where everyone will know me and my business.”

Ironically, that college tour was one of the most important ones we took – it provided clarity. Coming from a small high school, Sarah was ready for a change and a challenge.

Campus visits do what no college website can ever do – give students a glimpse of what campus life is really like. So as you are making plans to check out different colleges, here are some things to consider.

When to visit?

If you can, visit when campus in in full swing during the academic year. But if that’s not possible, a Saturday or in the summer will still give you the campus flavor.

Official tour or hang out?

Do both. An organized tour will allow you to understand process, logistics, dates and deadlines and all the nitty gritty. Hanging out helps you get a feel for the environment.

On tour and beyond

Ask questions that aren’t about facts and figures you can find on their website. And don’t judge a university by just one tour guide or the weather on the day. After your visit is over, everybody should compare notes. Mom may have noticed something that perhaps the student didn’t. Remember, you can always visit again.

I am pleased to say Sarah finished her undergraduate degree and is continuing her education at a university that is five times smaller than Purdue. She says it feels just right.

Pictuwarren-familyred: The Warren family

Sarah, Purdue (undergrad) and Wake Forest University (first-year law student)

Mitch, Ball State (undergrad) and George Mason (masters)

Seth, Indiana State University (freshman)