Ask a plethora of questionsDuring open houses, you can expect to see a number of important and knowledgeable people associated with a college. Deans, professors, coaches, admissions counselors, safety officers, and the student body president may be likely attend an open house. As such, you should take advantage of their presence by asking a great deal of questions. College representatives know that open house attendees always have a lot of questions, so do not feel shy about asking. Arrive to the open house prepared with a list of questions; writing your thoughts down is the only way to ensure you do not forget them! Continue to record questions as they occur to you. If possible, make an appointment with a particular professor, coach, or another person of interest to get answers to your more specific questions about a program or activity, for instance.
Attend discussion groupsDiscussion groups are another prime way to get answers and learn all you can about a college. The more information you have, the easier it will be to figure out if a college merits a spot on your list of prospective schools. Discussion groups that take the form of Q&A sessions are helpful because they allow you to pose your own questions and listen to the questions of others. As astute as you may be, it is probable that another guest will pose a question you had not thought of but would like to know the answer to, so keep your ears open for new insights!
Explore the dormsMake a promise to yourself that you will not leave any campus without checking out the student dorms. You should certainly visit the library, the dining hall, and any other place on campus you would frequent as well. However, students typically spend more time in their dorm rooms than anywhere else (after all, it is their living quarters), so seeing the dorms should be at the top of your list. Try to get access to more than one dorm hall as well, since they might vary significantly from one to the next. Current students may be available around the dorms also, and they may even invite you inside to show you around and tell you about their school. Mingling with the current students can give you a helpful glimpse into the campus’s social dynamics.
Meet with a financial aid counselorCollege is expensive, so finances may be a significant factor in determining where you will attend. If you would like to inquire about additional financial help from a college, making an appointment during an open house is a great time to do so. Make sure to bring your completed FAFSA and any other supporting documentation that will help you state your case. A great benefit of meeting with a financial aid counselor in person is that you do not have to wait for documents to be sent and received via mail. The financial aid counselor can make copies right then and there of any paperwork he or she requires. As you plan to attend college open houses, start compiling your list of questions. Then, get answers to those questions from all the different people on campus. Be curious and exploratory, which will aid you in gathering information. The next step is left to your judgment: is this school right for you?
Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.