Once a high school student decides he or she is going to attend college, deciding where to go can be a daunting task.
Just ask Marietta High School senior Jessica Frazier, 17.
She applied to five different colleges - Marietta College, Ohio State University, Syracuse University in New York, Marquette University in Wisconsin and New York University.
Photo submitted by Tom Perry.
A tour guide leads two people around the Marietta College campus. College admissions officials say when high school students are in the process of determining where to go to college, visiting the campuses they’re considering attending is very important.
"I knew that I wanted to go into a science field because I want to be a doctor," Frazier said, noting that she came up with the list of five schools after doing an Internet search of the top-ranked pre-medical programs in the country.
Frazier visited all the schools she applied to except Syracuse and Marquette to get a feel for what life is like there.
Just days ago, she decided that she'll attend Ohio State in the fall and attend medical school at NYU when she's done there.
Making the most of a college visit
Allow plenty of time to explore the college as fully as possible.
Sit in on a class that interests you.
Meet a professor in your chosen major or in a subject area you may want to pursue.
Talk to coaches of sports in which you might participate.
Explore the community that surrounds the campus.
Talk to students who attend that college and ask what they like about the college and any complaints they have.
The decision not to go to NYU for her undergraduate degree was a difficult one, she said.
"New York (University) has been my dream school for a very long time," she said. "They're so prestigious and they're in New York City...and I love the atmosphere."
For Frazier, it ultimately came down to the cost. While New York University offered her a $20,000 scholarship (tuition there is $50,000 a year), Ohio State University offered her a 100 percent tuition paid scholarship.
It wasn't her dream to go to OSU, but she's looking forward to being a Buckeye.
"When you get to the New York (University) campus, there's the city and there's the hustle and bustle I love...but when you get to Ohio State, you can feel the school spirit," she said.
Marietta College's director of admission, Jason Turley, said visiting a campus is the one thing a person must do when they're trying to determine where to go to college so they can get a good sense of the atmosphere.
"I can't stress the importance of visiting campus, through an organized visit day or an individual visit ... this will be your home for four years," he said. "Hearing about schools is very different than seeing schools."
Ohio Valley University's vice-president for enrollment, Larry Lyons, agreed.
"There are a large number of students each year that enter college...based on mom and dad went there or friends are going there...and when they do that without a visit, it puts them at a disadvantage," he said.
Turley said fall is the when most high school students are out visiting colleges they're interested in, and spring is when they make that very important decision of where they're going to go.
"When we look at this past year, we had 13 different visit days on campus and the visit days ranged from 50 students to maybe 150 students, and that doesn't include their families," Turley said. "We have a lot of visit days where we have 250 to 300 people that are on campus."
He said on the visit days, visitors have the opportunity to tour campus, eat in the dining hall, and learn about the majors, clubs and organizations the college offers by visiting tables that are set up in the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center on campus.
"The tables have faculty members from each of the different departments...so the students can walk up and meet with each of the faculty," Turley said.
Lyons said at OVU, visitors sit in on classes, meet with an academic adviser, talk with someone in the financial aid office, eat in the dining hall, tour the campus and spend a night in the dorm, if, in fact, the visitor is going to live on-campus.
"Basically, (they) get real good exposure to who we are at Ohio Valley," Lyons said.
"If they're looking at other schools, we suggest they do the same thing."
According to the College Board website, www.collegeboard.com, it's a good idea for a potential college student to not only meet with a professor who teaches in the field in which they plan to major, but to also meet with coaches of sports he or she wants to participate in.
It's also a good idea to chat with students who already attend a particular college to get a feel for what they like about it, what complaints they have and what they do on the weekends, according to the website.
Frazier said this is something she did, and she's glad she did.
"On campus, you have the students' point-of-view...and they can really tell you what it's like, unbiased," she said. "I wouldn't feel comfortable making the decision without visiting first."