10 tips for visiting colleges overseas

Now that the Covid-19 vaccine is making its rounds, many families may be considering a trip across the pond to check out international universities for their high school juniors.

But for those who may be doing this for the first time, it's easy to assume that visiting colleges abroad would be no different from visiting colleges in the U.S.

However, I would encourage you to read the following tips in order to manage your expectations and get the most out of your experience at college visits overseas.

Schedule an official tour

Never try to do your own tour unless there is no possible chance of getting on an official one; you just won't get the context of a campus without proper guidance from staff or students.

Without context, a campus is really just buildings with young adults.

Having said this, not all universities may be offering in-person tours this summer, depending on the Covid situation.

Manage your expectations

Campus tours abroad are generally not as robust as the ones in the U.S., which sometimes go for hours and always show all the flashy aspects of their institution, like model dorm rooms and large, extensive dining hall and recreational facilities.

At universities abroad, facilities just aren't going to be that way, and you may not even have access to see them.

For example, it may also be difficult and uncommon to be able to sit in on a class, meet with professors or even see an example of a dorm room.

But don't let this tarnish your opinions of the institution and/or experience; it's just the norm.

Dedicate sufficient time to explore the local town/city

University life abroad is much more closely tied to the local surroundings than just on campus; it's hugely important to see where you might hang out and what you'll get involved with locally.

And if you can't see yourself integrating into the local scene or don't know how you'd spend your time in a particular town, I would be questioning whether or not this university is the right choice for you.

So make sure you go do that Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb or the Tower of London tour; it's all part of the experience!

Don't make your decision based on the student guide

...Or based on any one particular individual at an institution.

The person could be having a bad day or just not be in the right headspace at that moment.

But it's important to remember that universities are large places with lots of moving parts, so try to be objective as much as possible.

Now, if you had the same experience with multiple people there, then definitely, there is a concerning trend that should be considered.

Limit campus visits to a maximum of 2 per day

Universities have a way of all starting to look the same after a while, and it becomes difficult to differentiate between them if you're visiting multiple campuses per day.

There are 40 different universities in London alone!