I’ve spent my summer sorting through list after list, deciding which university could be the right fit for me. With so many categories and a plethora of colleges to choose from, I felt overwhelmed. Since my search was not confined to staying in my home state of California, selecting which college to visit or which university to apply to was like picking blindfolded out of a hat. Fortunately, I stumbled upon something that could help narrow down my choices and give me better insight into the type of school I am interested in.
Since I began visiting colleges during the summer following my junior year, I immediately knew that I wanted to experience a smaller liberal arts college. We visited a slew of small schools along the west coast, but I wanted to widen my search and check out all of my options. Because the universities that I was attracted to were dispersed across the nation, time and money would not permit my exploration into every campus I was interested in. Knowing that many of the schools that peaked my interest were located along the east coast, my dad and I made a trip out to Massachusetts for visits and tours. We drove up to Maine to visit a number of smaller liberal arts colleges and back down to Massachusetts to see what else the east coast had to offer.
College tours gave me a feel for the campus and information that I would not be able to obtain from glancing over the school’s website. I became more knowledgeable of the environments that didn’t interest me and the ones that were calling my name. The bustling city of Boston was no match for the suburban intimacy of Lewiston.
Yet two days in another state was not nearly enough time to completely cover every school that I wanted to see. That is why, upon my return, I searched far and wide for any options to see what school might fit. It was then that I discovered that many of the schools I liked offered diversity overnight programs.
Financially, there was no way my family could afford flying across the country repeatedly for college visits. So the discovery of all-inclusive diversity programs for schools I was genuinely interested in was more than enticing. Not only would I have the opportunity to actually see the campus, but also experience student life and ask any burning questions I had.
In addition, a school offering a program specifically to promote diversity in their schools illustrated to me that their values likely aligned with mine. As an Asian American, I knew how important it was to me that my future college celebrate its community’s differences.
These campus visits were an incredible opportunity for me to discover if I could envision myself at a particular school.
While I was always exciting about attending university, I was still very nervous about the transition to college life. Yet during my visit, I discovered how incredibly excited I am for life after graduation. My experiences at the two schools I have visited so far were filled with engaging classes and stimulating conversation.
Both of my visits were incredibly positive and I really enjoyed both campuses. Yet even for students who participated in these overnights and were more unsure about a school, admitted that it was “worthwhile and gave a lot of insight into what [they] wanted.” For Jacob Viveros (12), he learned that a school “more fast-paced and researched based” was likely a better fit than the “small classroom experience.” But regardless, it was an important experience that he found really helpful.
I had a really great time during my visits and I strongly encourage other students to experience campuses the way I was fortunate enough to.