I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

3 Tips for Making the Most of a College Visit

1. Ask specific questions. Don’t throw your guide softballs like, “So, what are your most popular majors?” Instead, ask questions that will produce unique responses. Try asking, “What are some of your unique on campus traditions?” or “What’s your favorite thing to eat in the dining hall?” or “What type of student wouldn’t fit in here?” 2. Visit a class. The percentage of tour time spent on academics is paltry. But, academics are the point. Just because the website doesn’t advertise it, you can sit in on a class at almost any college that you visit. Before you visit, read through course descriptions. If something sparks your interest, contact the professor yourself and set up a time to sit in on the class. Or, visit a “signature” required course like Reed College’s Humanities 110. 3. Spend time on campus off the tour route. At most colleges, the tour showcases the best a school has to offer in under an hour. But, taking time to walk around areas off the route may help you to learn about the nuances of an institution. If you are able to see the entire campus on tour, go “off route” by people watching in the student center for 15 or 20 minutes. Overhearing student conversations, viewing the bulletin board announcements, and entrenching yourself in the culture of a school will help reveal distinguishing characteristics of any institution.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

you may want to know the class size, home work style and requirements, course selection, and student activities from the current student's point of view.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

To get the most out of your visit you need to go prepared. Do some advance research so that you can ask questions that yield information and an understanding that goes beyond what is offered on the tour. The school has a message its wants to share, but you need to know as much as you can in order to be sure that it is the right place for you. Ask about program, about financial aid, the make-up of the student body, the realities of the social life, and grad school placement rates. It is all relevant to your ultimate decision, and the school should welcome your desire to get to know it as well as you can. Too, go beyond the tour—go to the student center or just talk to student walking by and ask about life on campus. They are living the experience that you are considering and so it can be very valuable. If you have the time, ask about sitting in on a class. That can give you some great insight, as well.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

There are many responses on making the most of campus visits if you review those and have specific questions that are not answered please re-ask your question with the specific information. I can be confident that this question has been answered and has more information than you can imagine....enjoy the visits

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

Visiting campuses is really quite fun and when working with a college admissions counselor a student is given a specific list of things to look for. The most important thing to remember is to compare the same things at all schools so when looking back later you will be comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges.

Katherine Price
Senior Associate Great College Advice

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

Campus visits are an essential part of the college research process. You want to make sure you get everything you can out of your time on a college campus, especially if that school is far from your home. Here a few visits to get the most out of your campus visit: Campus tours and information sessions can be a great way to learn more about a college. Here are few things you should keep in mind before you visit a college: 1. Do some practice visits. Before you spend the money to visit your "top choice" school out of state, visit some colleges near your home. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with how campus tours and information sessions run. By the time you visit your top schools, you will know what details to look out for and what questions to ask. 2. Plan ahead. Most colleges will ask you to sign up for your tour and information session at least two weeks a head of time. You should also ask how long the tour and information session last, in case you are planning on trying to make it to another college that same day. 3. Get off campus. In addition to touring the campus, be sure to spend some time in the surrounding community. Getting to know what life is like off-campus is just as important as getting to know what your life will be like on-campus. 4. Timing is everything. Unfortunately, the best time to visit a college campus is during the school year. This will allow you to see what the campus culture is truly like. You may also have the opportunity to sit in on some classes or meet with a professor. 5. Ask questions! Do some research ahead of time so that all of your questions can be answered during your visit. Make sure you find out who your contact is in the Admissions Office so you can follow up with them with additional questions that may come up when you get home. You should ask about anything that is important to you: a specific academic program, the residence halls, life outside of the classroom, etc. Katherine Price Senior Associate www.greatcollegeadvice.com

Magali Telles
Outreach Specialist Sonoma State University

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

Because most campuses offer daily tours, before scheduling a campus tour, I would suggest to make an appointment with the department of the major you are interested in first and then schedule the tour around that. This will allow for you to receive concrete answers for the department you are interested in since the tour guides may only have limited information on many of the majors. Some crucial questions to ask are regarding class size, student to teacher ratio, and on-campus housing options. Additionally students should ask about activities they are particular intrested in such as Greek Life, clubs and on-campus activities.

Kathryn Lento

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

In addition to attending the info sessions and tours, make time to sit in places where students hang out: the student union, eateries or recreation facilities. While you are there, watch and listen. Try to envision yourself as a student. What are students wearing? How are students interacting with each other? Sometimes, you can learn more about a campus by parking yourself in these places than you can on an official tour. If you can make arrangements in advance to meet with a current student, that is always helpful.

Tony Tso
Headmaster Terasmanna Oikademy

I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?

Short-term campus visit (1 day, over-night and weekend stay) only reveal so much about a school. It takes time AND real-life encounters to evaluate a school's suitability to the visitor. But you don't have an option. So, there are 3 questions that a visit should answer for a prospective student and the guided tour is perhaps the least useful except in providing an overview (which you can get online from the school's website): 1. Do I like the place, the facilities, the physical environment and the larger context enough to stay for 4 years (or more). Assume that you won't have a car so don't use "I can always drive away" to justify a less-than-desirable locality. If you are getting your money's worth out of the school, you can't afford to be leaving campus regularly to get emotional relief. Walk the campus, walk through all the buildings that you would most likely frequent and check your gut response. Beauty is important to some of us. For the rest, being able to tolerate it is good enough though I can't advise that. We all perform better in a place that we enjoy. Since the choice is up to you, why not choose a place you would LOVE to spend 4 years? 2. Do I like the social ambiance of life I feel in the classrooms, the dining hall, the student union, the dormitory. In smaller schools, there is a definitive prevailing spirit of the place, though there is of course diversity even within the community of a small college. To do this right, you must plan an overnight stay in the dorm and attend several classes. Many school provide this at no cost to you other than a registration fee to get a good head count estimate. Nothing like spending a day or two as a student gives you a feel what it's like going to school there. 3. If you don't already have an intended major, choose one that's close enough for the exercise. Make a point to schedule meetings with faculty and an administrator of the department, ask about graduation requirements, double majors, flexibility etc. to discern what is the central concern of the institution. Most schools evolve into bureaucracies set up to balance budgets and manage programs to run students through the curriculum and they don't like exceptions, variations. Then there are schools that boast about customized curriculum, independent studies, no walls between disciplines, etc. That can be a good thing for those rare breed of students who know what they want and the school doesn't offer it (so why are they there in the first place?). It can also mean that they haven't figured out what's an essential and necessary curriculum! Schools sell diplomas for a living or fulfill a vaguely worded tax-payer mandate. Then there are institutions who focus on their mission, which is to educate the young, and array or develop resources to achieve that end. You will get a good sales pitch from all the folks you talk to who are on the payroll. The insight comes from comparing your notes from what you hear from say 3 different schools. You sense the difference immediately.

Woodrow Dunn
Academic Counselor Freedom High School

Campus Visitations

The top place on my list is are you satisfied with the university's library? Can you speak to a department chair? What about the guidance counselors and their willingness to assist you? Are the dormitories comfortable and will they have a tolerable noise level? Are there non-alcoholic dormitories? Are there quiet dormitories? Stop in and eat on campus. Remember you will be living on the campus, or at least spending a good part of your day on the campus. Is the campus neat and attractive? What about the buildings? Are they pleasant to the eye? You will not be able to get complete answers, but keep these thoughts in mind and the best of luck with your visitations.