ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Applying to College / 8 Tips Help You Maximize Your College Visits

8 Tips Help You Maximize Your College Visits

Rob Franek
Written by Rob Franek | July 26, 2018
8 Tips Help You Maximize Your College Visits

College visits might be the most fun part of the college application process. When it comes to researching potential schools, there's no better substitute for figuring out if a campus will feel like home.

When you go to college, you won't just be choosing a place to take classes -- you'll be picking a place to live for the next four years. If possible, visit every college that you are strongly considering. No website, guidebook or testimonial will give you a better feel for a school than you'll get by seeing it for yourself. Many students change their minds after a campus visit. This is obviously preferable to changing your mind after you enroll! Get the most out of your time on campus with our college visit checklist:

1. Mind the Calendar

Schedule your visit while school is in session. You won't get a realistic idea of student life in August (or if you attend during a special event like Spring Fling).

2. Meet the Experts

Talk to the current students — they may soon be your peers. If they have a problem or complaint, they will probably share it with you. If they love their school, they won't be shy about mentioning that either.

3. Meet the Other Experts

Stop by the admissions office and introduce yourself. Let them know what interests you about the school so they can direct you to the best place for further investigation. Collect contact information and send a brief, friendly email thanking them for taking the time to talk to you.

If there is a sign-up sheet, add your name! Colleges do keep track of which applicants have demonstrated genuine interest in the school. A visit is a great way to demonstrate your interest.

Some schools will let you interview with an admissions rep during your campus visit. If this opportunity is available, don't pass it up.

4. Take the Campus Tour...

While it's the most obvious thing to do, the official campus tour is worth your while. Find out if you need to register to get a spot. It gives the school a chance to show off its best features, like the newly-built theater or the rooftop planetarium. While you're walking around, check out the flyers and bulletin boards and pick up a school newspaper to get a sense of what's going on.

5. …Then Venture out on Your Own

The official tour will probably steer you clear of the school's less attractive features, like the shoddy dining hall or the tiny gymnasium. Take your own unofficial tour by wandering around campus. If there are any facilities that are important to you, find them and have a look for yourself. Make sure your destinations include the library and the first-year dorms.

6. Be A Student for A Day (Or Night)

Some schools sponsor overnight programs in which you can stay with a current student. This is a great opportunity to get a deeper sense of campus life and interact with your potential future friends and roommates.

Even if you don't stay over, most schools will allow you to sit in on lectures. Browse the course catalogue before you arrive or ask the admissions office which classes are in session that day.

7. Save the Best for Last

You'll get better at visiting colleges with practice. As you compare schools, you pick up on the aspects you like and the features you're not so fond of. You also figure out the right questions to ask, as well as the best campus spots to gauge student life. For that reason, visit your favorite schools last, so you'll be in the best position to make comparisons to the others on your list.

8. Don't Rush to Judgment

Try not to base your opinion of a school on bad weather, a so-so tour guide or one boring class. There are bound to be sunny days and more interesting classes. Same goes for overnight visits — you might end up staying with a student who has very different interests than you do.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

More on Applying to College

See all
typing at computer- karolina-grabowska-6958506-resized

Authentic Voice in College Essays

That’s why you want to use your authentic voice when writing any college essay.

So what’s the problem? A student has shared an ess…


College Interview Prep Tips: Brainstorm, Research, Analyze, Generalize

I recently visited Washington University in Saint Louis and was lucky enough to set up an interview. By speaking with peers of mi…

campus gates

Academic Index Scores: Why They Matter and How They're Calculated

Note: Click here for 10 Summer Programs You Can Still Apply For or keep reading to learn more about academic index scores.

8 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

7 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

Podcasts can offer a wealth of information to busy students, particularly when it comes to the college admissions process. We…


Avoid College Application Regrets: Tips For Getting It Right the First Time

Decision Day occurs each year on May 1st and is the deadline for students to inform the college of their choice of their intent t…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Search for Scholarship