Seeing past the statistics

Jennifer McGowen


College visits offer a chance to see schools beyond their statistics or brochures. The experience of walking around a campus and seeing the classrooms, dorms, professors, and students in person can help high schoolers narrow down their list of potential schools and make a decision they can feel good about. These visits also help parents to get a feel for where exactly their child will be spending the next four years, especially if the college is far away.

In my personal experience, visiting a variety of colleges helped me figure out what I really valued in a school, and what was not so important to me. I was set on a college out in the middle of cornfields and nothing until I visited a school in downtown Chicago and fell in love. I realized that being close to a city or otherwise populated area was pretty important to me, and it shaped how I have looked at colleges since then. I would never have had this experience if I had not found the courage to travel somewhere new and experience the college campus for myself.

vertical photo of a tall building on the iu campus

“I visited a college during the summer, and then during the school year, and it changed my perception because all of the students were there,” said Annie Hermann, 12. “The student body is who you’re going to be with, and that’s more important than the school. You’re going to get an education at any college, so seeing the atmosphere of the students really helps.”


The only real negative to visiting colleges is the time required to travel to different schools, especially during the school year. Many juniors and seniors find their schedules packed with sports practices, choir concerts, club meetings, and everything in between. This does not leave very much time to take full-day excursions to visit colleges, but finding the time to tour potential schools or even attend local information sessions can be vital to finding the best fit for a student.