The first and best thing you should do when preparing to visit a college is to make a list. There will be tours of the campus, there will be time for questions and answers. You’ll likely get a brief overview of the campus itself, a glimpse of the dorm areas and the cafeteria. There is a lot to do in what is often a short amount of time. Making a list helps make sure you get all of your questions answered and see all of the things you need to see.
It’s important to remember that college is a different experience than high school. It’s not just a place you are going during the day for classes, and that is important to remember when you visiting a school. Your potential school is also your potential home for the next four years. It’s important that you feel comfortable and secure in any new home, and most particularly in a place that is likely your first home away from home, where your parents are not right around the corner to lend a helping hand.
Learn about Safety and Security Procedures:
It’s important that your college home is a place that feels safe to you. All colleges have a level of security in place to help protect their students. It helps you to understand what security exists for the school you are considering. Important questions to ask:
- Does the college employ its own security, or do the police patrol the campus grounds often? How often? Quite simply security or police patrolling the area on a regular basis discourages crime.
- What is the procedure for dorm security? Most often dorms have interior hallways, and the front doors to the dorms remain locked. You may want to double check to make sure that this is the case for the dorms at this particular college. Also, as you tour the dorms you can observe. Does the person giving the tours have to unlock the main door to the dorm building? Are the hallways well-lit? Are there security cameras? Look for other safety items as well. Do you find fire alarms and extinguishers in easily accessible places? Is there an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) somewhere in the facility?
- What’s the plan? If there is a fire or some other emergency, are there clearly marked exits and maps posted pointing to ways out.
Learn about Health:
It is very likely that your college will have a health center. Take some time on your tour to look it over. If you get the flu, or twist an ankle or something, you will likely be paying a visit. Find out what the facility offers and doesn’t offer. What are the hours of operation? Is there a doctor there most of the time or is there a nurse practitioner? If there is something that they can’t handle, will they transport you to another facility? Where is the nearest hospital?
These are just a few health and safety topics that you can explore in your visit which will help you develop an understanding of your home away from home. This gives both you and your parents some peace of mind.