1. Take the tour. Attend the information session. If the school is of great interest to you, see if you can schedule an interview with the Admissions Department. Also, if there is a department that your are particularly interested in, call ahead and see if arrangements can be made to tour the department and possibly meet with a professor.
2. Listen, look, learn. When you are walking around campus on the tour, does your student ambassador know a lot of the other students on campus?
3. Check out the other students on campus. Do they look happy? Are they walking around by themselves? In groups of friends? Do they look like people you'd want to meet?
4. Stop in the student center for a burger or a cup of joe and eavesdrop shameless. Catch the rap and see if the conversations are ones you'd like to join in on. How do students dress? Can you relate?
5. Read the student newspaper. Can you relate? Does it feel extreme? Or does it feel like you?
6. Do you feel comfortable? Excited? Pumped? Or are you freaking out. Sometimes you will have negative or positive reactions to a school, but cannot describe why you feel that way. Its okay. The important thing is to LISTEN to your intuition.
7. Pop into the labs, classrooms, if possible. Clean? Up to date equipment? Windows?
8. Search Twitter Facebook, Tumblr, etc for posts from students at that school. This will give you some insight on the culture. What are students chatting about. What are they complaining about? Altho this is not fool proof information, it may give you a little insight.
9. Visit the Career Services Office - are they friendly? How many counselors do they have. Check out their Social Media. Ask about Internships and/or coops and/or community service opportunities. This office is a TREMENDOUS resource to you and you want the best possible service.
10. What about the counseling center? Do they run workshops on stress, time management, homesickness, college life adjustment? How many visits are you allowed each semester. Getting used to college life can be BIG. Know what resources are there for you.
11. Student Success/Academic Support - what is available to you. Is there a writing/math center and/or tutoring resource? Are there peer mentors students who can help you navigate through your first semester?
12. International study. What do they have to offer? If there is a specific office, and this is important to you, go visit the office.
13. Keep your eyes and ears open. You will change and mature a lot during high school, and you may change your mind about what is important to you - or may not know what is important to you. So remember to "go with our gut" feelings too,.