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Where do I go?Travel as far as is feasible, and view a wide variety of schools. This trip, of course, depends upon your particular requirements for a college or university, as well as how far from home you are able to roam over Spring Break.
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What do I look for?Before you arrive at each school, briefly jot down questions that you have and would like answered during your time there. If you can, take the official campus tour led by a current student – that way your guide can answer all of your questions. The campuses might begin to mesh together and look the same during a week-long trip, so be sure to pick up each school’s material and write notes on it during the tour. If the admissions office allows you to, sit in on a class. Relax in the center of campus life (typically the student union) for at least 30 minutes. What is the atmosphere on campus? Do you feel comfortable? What are students doing? People-watching is a great way to develop a “feel” for the campus. Begin a conversation with a student and ask him or her some of your questions. If you cannot find someone to pose your questions to, request the contact information for a current student from the admissions office. This is an important connection to establish, especially if a question occurs to you later (it will!). Remember: spring is typically the most favorable season in college. It is often warm out, and students will soon graduate or begin their summers. Keep in mind that fall and winter may paint a different picture. Lastly, search for a special aspect of the school. What makes it different, either positively or negatively? This trip may quickly blur in your mind, so capture an Instagram or two of the attributes you love or hate. Four or five months later, you can quickly remember why you wished to apply to this college or university.
Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.