You have Google, websites, college rankings—so why take the time to attend a college open house? In a word: experience.
“Your responsibility is to find meaning behind those answers you’ve been looking for on Google,” says Bentley University President Gloria Cordes Larson.
Open house is different from a campus tour because it gives you access to faculty, staff, students and alumni who are available to answer questions during breakout information sessions (and you’ll still get to tour campus).
Many colleges hold two large open houses every year: one in the fall for all potential applicants and one in the spring for accepted students. They’re usually aimed at high school seniors going through the college admissions process. (Most schools host additional open houses throughout the year as well, some even for different majors.)
Even if you “know” you want to attend a particular school, here are 21 reasons you should go to an open house:
1. Get Comfortable
Go with your gut when visiting campus. Seeing a school from so many different angles — from professors to food to facilities to dorms to financial aid—will give you a feel for whether or not it’s a place where you can be happy, in and out of the classroom.
2. Meet Future Classmates . . . and Friends
Open house is a great way to start getting to know the people with whom you’ll be living and learning. These could be your future classmates, roommates and friends. Use the time to talk to other attendees and get a sense for the diversity and personalities of students interested in attending the school.
3. Check Out the Digs
Touring residence halls is the perfect opportunity to check out your future home — and it makes planning what to bring to campus in the fall a whole lot easier. (This list of 127 things to bring to college can help too!)
4. Explore Your Passions
One of the most challenging aspects of college is choosing a major — even if you think you already know what you want to do. Faculty representing several majors and minors will be on hand to tell you why they love what they do, and how you can select the major that’s the best fit for you.
5. Look Beyond the Classroom
Find out how you can take advantage of internships, service-learning and study abroad to create an education that’s relevant in the real world. Hands-on learning is a way to take what you’re learning in the classroom into real, applied experiences.
6. Start Plotting Career Paths
How does the school prepare you for life after college? For example, at Bentley’s open house, you can learn how the Career Services staff provides a customized, four-year career development plan that will help you learn how to write a résumé and cover letter, ace your interviews and negotiate your salary — and find a career where you’ll be happy.
7. Talk Numbers
If you have specific questions about your financial aid package, financial aid counselors might be there to answer them.
8. Check Out Student Organizations
From fashion to skydiving to table tennis, most schools have a wide variety of clubs and activities. Open house is a great time to learn more about them and possibly meet some student organizers.
Check out these 6 College Clubs You Never Knew Existed.
9. Play With Technology
Many schools let you visit classrooms and labs during open house to start test-driving the actual equipment that will be available to you. For example, Bentley students use the same high-tech equipment that the pros do. Students attending open house can check out the university’s high-tech learning labs that integrate professional technology into curriculum.
10. Meet Alumni
What happens to graduates once they leave the college? Sometimes alumni show up to open houses. Talk with graduates in various careers, and learn more about how you can tap into their expertise.
11. Talk Sports
12. Make Your Parents Happy
Parents often have an itinerary of activities just for them, including information sessions about the admissions and financial aid processes. The school will keep them busy while you go explore!
13. Get Some Face Time
We’re not talking about your iPhone. Meeting a school’s faculty and staff is a way to show that you’re interested. Put a face to your application.
14. Learn the Real Deal
You’ll have the chance to meet current students who will tell you what it’s really like to live on campus, attend class, play sports, eat in the dining halls. Ask, and they’ll share.
15. Travel the World
Interested in studying abroad? Find out the different options available through the school’s International Education program, which takes you outside of your element and allows you to challenge yourself in a whole new cultural context.
See the photos from when students went on an incredible two-week trip to Chile.
16. Go to the Head of the Class (room)
Are you looking for large lecture halls or smaller meeting spaces? Visit different classrooms to see the kinds of experiences you can expect.
17. Stock up on T-Shirts
During any open house downtime, head to the campus bookstore and start collecting the “required” T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, pens and other school merchandise. You and your family will want to show off your school spirit and get excited about your new home. And by getting it on campus, you save on shipping fees!
18. Get Cultural and Spiritual
Open up your eyes to different people, places, cultures, perspectives and faiths when you visit a college. Bentley students come from across the U.S. and nearly 100 countries. Check out ways to explore cultural and spiritual life.
19. Check Out Your City (or Country) Side
Location, location, location. Living on a suburban campus has a very different vibe than a city or rural setting. Visit different campuses to find out which you prefer (each has its benefits).
20. Be Healthy
How will you stay healthy once you get to college? Find out what kind of resources and services are available to support you physically, socially, intellectually and emotionally.
See what it’s like to go to school near an amazing city like Boston.
21. Walk a Mile
Or in some cases two! Make sure you wear comfy shoes to any open house. Get a feel for the exercise you’ll be getting as you walk from dorms to classes to dining halls to the athletics center.