How to get val from selection?

How to get val from selection?

I have a selection element:

  1.             <select id="selvisatype" title="Please select a visa type">
                    <option value="pleaseselect">Please Select</option>
                    <option value="notapplicable">Not Applicable</option>
                    <option value="a1">A-1</option>
                    <option value="a2">A-2</option>
                    <option value="b1">B-1</option>
                    . . .
I want to retrieve the value the user has selected (or "Please Select" if they've not selected anything). I tried this:

  1.        if ($('#visitor').is(':checked')) {
             console.log('visitor is checked');
             var visaselection = $('#selvisatype').val();
             console.log('visaselection is ' + visaselection);

...and, after checking the "visitor" radio button, the console says "visitor is checked" then "visaselection is undefined"

This happens whether I leave selvisatype alone or make a selection from it. It also happens with this code:

  1. var visaselection =  $('select[name="selvisatype"]').val() 

With this code, OTOH:

  1. var visaselection =  $("#visaselection option:selected").text(); simply says, "visaselection is " (blank)


Yet, according to what's in the URLBar after a form submit: does recognize a selection there:

... selvisatype=b1...

So I'm trying to get the value via jQuery from the wrong property or something...