Why you should visit every school you can

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 Oliver Gallop, Graphics editor

It’s always best to listen to your parents. During junior year, I did not want to think about colleges, I wanted to think about how to pass my AP classes that were new and extremely difficult for me. I had dream schools in mind, but my thoughts about the schools I wanted to apply to originated from their football team and/or school colors.

Contrary to what I thought I knew, I had no idea what a college campus felt like, how the classes differed from those in high school, and how much fun there was to be had in these “illustrious” college towns. Being the stubborn teenager that I was, I did not want to sway from my hopes of going to a very large school, no matter the location. My mother earnestly pushed me to visit college campuses, even those that I had and still have no intentions of attending, but I completely understand her devious plan now that I am actually applying.

I believe that every student, both young and old, should visit any college campus they can set foot on. Even small, innocent freshmen can benefit from college visits, although they might feel tortured waiting four years to experience what most college visitors will experience in one or two. My first college visit was a tad overwhelming, as all the students appeared seven-feet tall and out to get me. After I visited my first big school, I realized that maybe the 300 student classrooms and slim chances of seeing friends around a campus occupied by more than 30,000 people weren’t for me. Along with the large schools, my parents took me to schools with student populations that I could practically count on my fingers, schools a short drive away from home, and schools with weather so unbearably cold that I barely made it out alive. I toured schools while visiting my family in the Midwest, and drove hundreds of miles during those trips to see other colleges in the area.

Although I have not seen every school I am applying to this year, I have seen enough to know what I want out of my future school. Spending time on campus and in the college community helped me decide if I could see myself living, learning, breathing and playing in certain schools for four or more years. Without these college visits, which I believe to some extent should be mandatory, I would not know what I truly want out of a school. The earlier students make these college visits, the better. College seems like a scary place, and I’m sure it will be at times, but actually visiting and experiencing parts of college life make it much less frightening.

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