Everyone has different views about colleges. In order to find which one is right for you, there is no better way than exploring them yourself. After a recent trip to Princeton, Columbia, and New York University, I learned the true value of college visits.
After a week of traveling through New Jersey and New York City, I can fully promote similar visits to any high school student contemplating the same matter. People spend four years or more near their colleges, and finding the college that fits you is probably one of the most crucial steps of college application.
In an interview with JSR, Manlius Pebble Hill school counselor William Cardamone argued for the importance of college visits, saying, “Campus visits are so critical to the process of choosing the right college. It’s really difficult describing the feeling one has when arriving at a new campus. I’ve witnessed multiple times when a student loves or hates a campus upon arrival… Finding whether this college fits you or not can only be done through campus visits. Until the student visits the campus, his knowledge… [is] only theoretical.”
My first hand view of Princeton was truly amazing; the Hogwarts-like campus made my jaw drop.
I learned so much about Princeton in less than two hours as I saw dorms, libraries, gardens, gyms, and even fraternity houses. However, the truly unique Princeton experience began when the professor allowed visitors to sit in a chemical engineering lab. The enthusiastic atmosphere from the students and the professor mesmerized me, and I realized how limited a catalog, brochure, or website can be.
Throughout my tour, I constantly daydreamed how amazing studying and enjoying four years of my life here in Princeton would be. I also visited both Columbia and NYU and found strengths and weaknesses of all three universities. The tours provided motivation and offered extensive information.
Unfortunately, some students choose unifitting colleges due to their lack of campus visits.
NYU junior Tim Goldman told me that “the transfer from Ithaca College was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Although I’d never visited Ithaca College, I just assumed it would be [a good place for me]…”
“After my freshmen year,” Goldman continued, “I visited NYU and decided this is the place I want to study. College visits are important; I learned it the hard way by wasting my freshman year of college.”
There is no better way than campus visits if you want the firsthand view of colleges. For example, I’ve always known that NYU is located in Manhattan, but I was surprised when I realized that the campus isn’t gated; the campus is the streets of New York City!
When I saw NYU, I personally thought the campus was too scattered compared to Columbia or Princeton’s campuses. But not everyone is the same. NYU freshmen Danny Lloyd told me that he chose the school due to that campus atmosphere.
“I just simply love the fact that the campus is laid out in the streets of lower Manhattan,” Lloyd said. “It makes me feel like I’m living in New York City rather than studying in a gated community.”
Ultimately, you pick your own college. Do you feel home? Do you feel comfortable walking around campus? Would you be happy if you had to study here for four years? Do you click with the students and faculty? If you lack the answers, go explore to find the college that best fits you.