The college search is just beginning - or ending, for some - and there’s one last task to complete before settling in on one of the most important decisions of your life: visiting your dream school through an open house. There are several reasons to make a trip to campus, whether it’s to take a campus tour, meet with an athletic coach, or take pre-admission classes. Through an open house, colleges welcome you to campus tours, professor meet-and-greets, and a look into extracurricular activities to make a big impression.
When attending an open house, it’s important to remember the five senses: see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. You’ll be taking advantage of everything an immersive Open House weekend has to offer in order to truly understand what may be your home for the next four years. It will be important to observe the amenities of the campus, for instance, so you can see the sizes of the residence and dining halls, classrooms, and activity centers and determine if they are appropriate for you.
You will also want to listen to your surroundings when on campus to feel the vibe around you. Does the campus have a city setting? Is campus rurally set? Are campus surroundings that of a small college town? When you listen to your campus surroundings, you’ll find that indistinct student conversations and the noise of recreational activities like sports and student organizations give way to the demographics of the student body and extracurricular activities, which will ultimately help you decide if you fit in.
Get a whiff of what happens on- and off-campus. Our sense of smell allows us to get a feel for the types of food served in the dining halls, local restaurants, and off-campus eateries. Sense of smell can also determine the campus’ geographical settings like famous landmarks and weather. Is there a musty, damp smell of rain? How about the smell of sweet flowers lined along the walkways in the spring? Do you get a smell of fresh mountaintops and trees? Imagine the smell that will follow you for the next four years to guide you in making a decision.
Don’t forget to eat during your visit at an open house. If you can eat at one of the campus dining halls, then it’s strongly encouraged so you know how the food tastes. Alternatively, try eating a meal at a popular student hangout spot off-campus to get a sense of the favorite local cuisines. Tasting the food on- and off- campus also provides context into the area’s support for certain environmental issues like recycling. Do they have separate recycling containers for bottles, paper, and food compost? Are foods locally grown and sourced? The answer to questions such as these allow you determine if the area’s food choices and options are right for you.
When able, touch is a major sense that can give insight into an area. At an open house, for instance, get a feel for the dorm room beds and classroom desks and chairs. Don’t forget to shake the professors’ hands. When you touch the furniture utilized throughout campus, you’ll be able to tell how comfortable students can be when studying and instinctively, wether the college is modern or outdated. By shaking hands with the professors, you can see the professionalism that occurs and the relationships they have with their students. Are they a close knit community? Do they value student success? Take into consideration the way the campus feels when making your decision.
Whether you’re stuck on which college to attend or have already made a decision, attending an open house can be significant in the way you feel about campus. When you’re at the open house, be sure to actively participate in as many activities as you can and speak with current students and professors in your department. Truly immerse yourself in the campus and its surroundings to get a feel for where you’ll be for the next four years.