Fall semester marks a time when students in the last years of high school will go to university campuses for information about the schools. These visits are important to see the campus and assess the schools. Students and their parents must have guidelines for judging the merits of a campus. Here are a few tips for assessing a potential university.
Before You Visit
A professionally run university should have a department that stays in touch with potential students and is transparent about its fees and programs. Study the brochures, school catalogs, and websites or meet with representatives at college fairs to gain more information. A school should be honest about its tuition and have representatives that can and will answer your questions. Avoid visiting schools that are vague about tuition, schedules or those with representatives that cannot or will not answer your questions.
Avoid schools with a disorganized admissions office where staff members do not answer your telephone calls or emails. Also, note how the admissions staff greets you when you telephone. Shun universities where the campus staff does not greet you in a friendly manner. You are paying their salaries and you are entitled to respect.
Campus Lifestyle Choices
Some universities have reputations as “party” schools. Avoid a school with this reputation. Enrolling at a college is about gaining an education, not using alcohol or drugs. Focus on schools with comprehensive programs, through departments such as campus health centers, to help students make wise choices about avoiding substance abuse. Also, if you are female, look for a school with an outreach program to educate women about campus safety. For example, campus security should have an emergency telephone number for women to request, if they feel unsafe at night, an accompanying officer so the women can reach their destinations safely.
Safe Campus Housing
Safety is not only about behavior, it is also about where you reside. Try to live in a dorm building or off-campus housing instead of a fraternity or sorority. According to a 2008 Harvard School of Health study, “What We Have Learned From the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study,” (Wechsler H, Nelson TF. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2008; 69(4): 481-4), sororities and fraternities have high levels of binge drinking. Hazing injuries and deaths, as well as sexual assault are common in this housing system. Be wary of invitations to fraternity or sorority parties and avoid other housing where alcohol or drug use is a frequent activity.