To make the most of a college visit, follow our college visits checklist below:
- Sign up. Almost every college offers official tours for prospective students and their families. Contact the admissions office or view their website to find out upcoming dates and times, and make sure to sign up beforehand if it's required. Check the campus map before you leave to find visitor parking lots. And if you can't make it for an official tour through the admissions office, you can take a self-guided tour. Many colleges offer brochures to lead you around campus.
- Go during the academic year. It's ideal to visit a college while class is in session. By checking out the campus during this time, you can observe current students in action and attend a college event such as a theatre production or sporting event.
- Be prepared. Before you arrive on campus, think of the information you want to learn about the college, and ask questions about anything you don't find out during the tour. Those questions might include:
- How big is a typical class?
- Is my major or academic program of interest offered?
- What types of clubs and organizations exist?
- What special academic opportunities are available (study abroad, co-ops, an honors program, etc.)?
- Are merit scholarships available? What percentage of each student's financial need is met?
- Make yourself comfortable. Bring clothes that are appropriate for the weather, shoes that are designed for walking, and plenty of water and snacks.
- Take notes. As you tour each campus, write down what you observe and the information you learn, such as the layout of the campus, interesting academic programs, and special admissions opportunities. Leave time after each visit to process your thoughts as a family and share your reflections and opinions of each school.
- Take advantage of special opportunities. Some colleges allow students to stay overnight as a guest of a current student, observing college life first hand and attending classes and activities for the day. Contact the admissions office to see what's offered at each school.
If you don't get the chance to go visit a particular college in person, you may still have the opportunity to "see" the college through a virtual tour. Most schools have a virtual tour posted on their undergraduate admissions webpage, allowing you to get a feel for the campus environment and to hear from faculty, students, and administrators. Taking part in a virtual tour can help you get a sense of the college as a whole and learn more about life on campus.