You can gain a lot of information from attending a college open house. When you’re there, make sure you make the most of your time with these tips.

Visiting a college open house can be one of the most thrilling experiences for a high school student.  A little preparation, communication and openness to new experiences will help you get the most out of your open house visit.

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Be prepared for your college open house visit

I know it may seem like overkill, but it’s probably a good idea to write up a prioritized agenda before you visit the school.

  • List the sports venues you want to visit. My best friend fell in love with his school when he saw – and smelled – the fresh clay tennis courts.
  • Go check out the department office, if you know what you’d like to major in. When I was applying to college to be an English Major, I stumbled across the English Department’s offices quite by accident.  The secretaries were super friendly.  I got to meet the Dean of the department and he invited me to sit in on a Senior Seminar on Chaucer for 15 minutes. I didn’t understand a whole lot of what they were talking about – but it was the coolest part of the whole trip!
  • Speaking of which: go sit in on a class. If you can, sit in on a small class.  Visiting a large lecture format class with hundreds of students may be intimidating, especially for those from smaller high schools.

Now, once you’ve listed everything you want to do at the open house, rank them in order of importance. Do the most important thing first, the second most important thing second, and so forth. If you run out of time, you want to skip the least important things, not the most important!

Plan your open house with your parents

Run your open house agenda by your parents.  You may want to fill your time at the open house with visiting the rock climbing wall, looking around the town, or buying a tee shirt with the school’s name on it.  But I can assure you that your parents will have a few things they want to check out.

They may want to visit the financial aid office.  They may want to assess how close student housing is to campus or look into where they can stay when they visit.  Mom and dad will have some things that they want to do.  Discuss an agenda that takes into account and balances everyone’s needs.

Be open to new experiences

Take the tour. Just do it. You will thank me later.

When you visit a college for an open house, you can be assured that they will offer an organized tour for students and parents to experience the college.  Time and again I hear students complain about how boring the tour is.  Or how slow it is.  So maybe it’s not Cirque de Soleil.

But, students, here are two reasons to do it:

  • First, your parents will want to go on the tour. Trust me.  They will.  Parents have a “the school knows what it’s doing” approach.  (Sounds familiar, right?)  So, go on the tour to keep the peace with your parents.  They’ll appreciate it, and it will set a good tone for the trip.
  • Second, I guarantee that you’ll have an unexpected bit of fun.  Maybe you’ll meet a bunch of kids playing Ultimate Frisbee.   Maybe you’ll stumble upon the tucked-away quad where the cute girls/guys hang out.  If you are like me, maybe you’ll make a friend that you’ll have all the way through graduation.


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