7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Campus Visit

two female students smiling for a photo while on campus

The importance of a campus visit cannot be overstated. After all, you’re going to spend four years of your life at the college you ultimately choose to attend. Perhaps that very significance is what can make college visits feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why our admissions team put together these seven tips – to provide you with some concrete steps you can take to make the most of your campus visit.

1. Research, research, research!

It is important for you to make a list of schools to visit – and ultimately, apply to. Get started by focusing on yourself, rather than on potential colleges. What excites you academically? What areas would you like to explore? What kind of environment do you wish to live in? Once you’ve taken the time to reflect on yourself and on your aspirations, build your list from there. Find colleges that are compatible with you – academically, socially, and financially.

Read our article on college search tips.

2. Plan ahead

Give yourself plenty of time to arrange your visit and schedule a tour, as space is often limited. Most colleges offer formal visits that you have to sign up for.

It’s also a good idea to pick a city where you can see several schools. This is particularly useful if you don’t not have a clear idea of what to expect you want in your future college home and want to explore options. However, we recommend limiting yourself to 2 schools per day, to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Be sure to document your visit with notes and pictures.

3. Communication is key

As is the case for most things in life, communication is crucial. It’s perfectly fine to reach out to schools for special requests. Generally, they will do their best to accommodate you.

Think about what you really want, or need, to do on visit. For example, do you want to schedule a time with counseling or disability services? Is there a specific class you would like to attend, or a particular faculty member you would like to speak with? If so, be sure to let the school know.

4. Don’t just listen, engage!

Prepare a list of questions you would like to have answered. You’ll meet with various members of the campus community, including students, admission counselors, and faculty – all can help inform your choice. What support resources are on campus? What about internship, study abroad, or research opportunities? What are some career paths that previous students have pursued? To get you started, here are five things you can ask faculty on a college visit.

When building your list of questions, it helps to have an idea of what your major will be, so you can meet with the right people and ask the right questions. (Read more on how majors affect your college search.) If you don’t yet know what you want to study, don’t worry! Many high school students are undecided. You can also get a sense of the relationships that students have with faculty. Do students meet one-on-one with faculty? Do their professors know their names? These things can make a huge difference to your college experience.

5. After the visit, do your own exploring

Colleges usually offer great official visits of the campus, including guided walking tour, chats with current students, and time to meet with a an admission counselor, a faculty member or attend a class.

But don’t forget to walk around the campus on your own as well! Shop at the student center, explore the library, or simply walk outside and people-watch. Slow it down for a bit, and get a feel for what your life on each campus might be like.

6. If possible, visit during the school week

It’s probably easier for most to schedule a campus visit during the weekend, but it is usually much quieter as students might be resting and relaxing, or off having fun in town. By visiting during the week, you’ll get a better idea of what a typical school day will look like on campus. If you can’t schedule a tour during the week, try to come back at a later date and walk around campus.

7. Explore “off the beaten path”

Your college will be your new home for the next few years, but remember that you will not spend ALL your time on campus. If you are not familiar with the area, take some time to explore your surroundings. Ask your admission counselors for suggestions: local restaurants, areas to visit, popular attractions. Learn a little bit more about the area.

8. (Bonus!) A final tip for the parents

Campus visits are vital for students to make an educated decision. Even our President, Dr. Allen, is an advocate: read her op-ed on the importance of a college visit.

But parents are also welcome, and encouraged, to visit campuses. Often, colleges set times for students to take off on their own, while parents and guests have a different activity planned, whether a different tour or a separate chat with students and faculty.

Our biggest piece of advice for you: be involved, but let your students take the lead and step up. This is a valuable opportunity for her to start demonstrating the independence she will need in just a few years!

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