Unspoken importance of college visits should be voiced


Photo courtesy Gillian Berman

Junior Gillian Berman stands in the center of the University of Florida field with her family during her spring break college tour.

As springtime rolls around, talk of college amongst juniors begins to spark. The college process is emerging and stressed out juniors are everywhere you turn. It’s common for juniors to spend their spring break touring college campuses but, with virtual college tours, is this still necessary? Yes, it is.

Visiting colleges is crucial when deciding where to apply and attend. The atmosphere at every campus differs from college to college. Being able to explore and tour any college will provide prospectives with a greater understanding of what student life will be like attending that university. 

An important factor when determining colleges is location. Visiting colleges in person provides information about the layout of the campus as well as the towns and cities that surround the campus. Colleges in a city, town, or suburb all seem similar on paper but after attending different campuses in person students can decipher one from the other. You can also discover an energetic vibe to the campus that cannot be appreciated on paper.  

Additionally, in-person college visits help students understand the scope of the student body. It is impossible to get a feel for the size of the student body from a virtual tour. Junior Gillian Berman said, “I really enjoyed visiting Auburn. It was a very important experience because I got to see the difference in student-to-campus ratio compared to other colleges I had seen.”  

Berman also confirmed the value of seeing how a southern college operates differently than a college in the north. Berman said, “I noticed the difference in traditions, school attire and academic tendencies. These are all aspects of Auburn I didn’t realize from the website.”

The ambiance at each college campus is more important than one may realize and simply judging a college virtually doesn’t give full representation. Every campus has its own unique feel and provides different opportunities. Some campuses are small and cozy, providing more intimacy and the potential to meet more students in one’s classes. Alternatively, other campuses are huge, filled with students so you could meet someone new every time you attend class. I discovered that some colleges foster a competitive and challenging atmosphere, while others have a broader social aspect and communal feel. Junior Tyler Cosgrove said, “UCLA campus is smaller and more compact so there is a lot more going on making the campus appear more lively and energetic. UC San Diego is very chill and does not have a whole lot of student involvement on campus. Before my visits I imagined those schools to be very similar but I realized how different they were.” 

Finally, personalities of the student body seem to vary when one chooses schools on opposing coasts. Junior David Horcasitas said, “I visited Stanford and UCLA in California and witnessed a huge difference in the community and student culture compared to the University of Maryland. My biggest take away was the upbeat nature and active lifestyles of all the students. I attribute it mostly to the beautiful weather and students’ ability to spend a huge part of their life outside. There appeared to be an endless list of activities to explore in California. On the negative side, Horcasitas said, “The students appeared to have less welcoming personalities and seemed intolerant of other lifestyles compared to their own at SoCal.”

After going on some of my own college visits this past spring break, I personally found all the above to be true, reinforcing the well-advised tip that visiting colleges of interest is a huge help.