What are some tips for college visits?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

What are some tips for college visits?

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

3 Tips for College Visits

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.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Before you visit -- ask yourself...

Before you visit a college -- ask yourself a few questions about what YOU want in a college. Once you do this -- you will be able to pinpoint the qualities that are important to you. Think about the kind of geographic location you are looking for in a college. Think about the subjects that interest you and new topics that you'd like to explore. Think about your personal, academic and career goals that you'd like to achieve in college. And finally, think about what kind of learner you are. Are you the kind of person who learns just fine in a large lecture setting or are you more comfortable in a small classroom setting with lots of discussion? Are you the kind of person who learns best by doing? Are you interested in research? Are you interested in traveling and studying abroad? Once you begin to know yourself better, you will be able to ask the questions that most relevant to you, your experience, and your priorities.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Tips of the Trade

Review the mission statement of each college prior to visiting. Look for how the college is implementing the ideals set forth in its mission statement. Authenticity is a sure sign that the institution will deliver on its promises.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Notice Little Details

Create a template for your college visits that you can complete as you go or while you are leaving the campus. Take lots of photos (including one with the name of the college appearing). Talk to students while visiting. Eat in the cafeteria. Check out the bookstore. Look at the events on the bulletin boards. Go by the career and counseling office and see if there are internships on offer. Ask about support services--peer tutoring for example or a writing lab. Notice if the physical plant is in good condition. Ask about safety measures--is there a blue light system, are there special arrangements for late at night?

Kathryn Lento

What are some tips for college visits?

While tours & info sessions are useful, after a while they all sound the same and most visit the same spots on campus. **Build in enough time to see the things that are important to you...maybe it is the art studios or science labs? **Spend time at places where students hang out. Just observe how students interact. What are they wearing? Do they seem happy, anxious? **Write down your impressions of the college right away. After a number of visits, campuses tend to morph together. What stood out? Could you see yourself there?

Rana Slosberg
Owner Slosberg College Solutions LLC

College visit tips

In addition to attending a tour and going to an information session, see what else you can learn about the campus: -- Arrange to sit in on a class -- Read bulletin board to see what is happening on campus -- Try the food in the cafeteria -- Read the school newspaper -- See what the neighboring community is like -- Talk with random students -- If possible, stay overnight with a current student

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Have an open mind

It amazes me when a family goes to visit a college and then never gets out of the car because they saw one thing that did not click. If you are there, give the place a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised. If you have done your research in the first place, you would not be making a visit to a college that did not interest you for some reason. There have been plenty of times that I have visited colleges and have been put off by the appearance going into campus or by the tour guide, but when I put that aside, everything else was fine. Talk with students you see around, talk with faculty members, pick up the student newspaper to see what the current hot topics/issues are. Keep notes of your impressions so you don't forget what you liked or did not like about each college.

Carolyn Mulligan
Principal Insiders Network to College

Make sure to chat with students......

If possible sign up for the information session and tour of the school since you will hit the high spots and get all the official material in that way. Make sure to ask your tour guide any extra or specific questions you may have about majors or extracurricular activities you may be interested in, or athletics. I always like to ask what they did over the last weekend or what might have surprised them after coming to the school? These questions often elicit interesting responses. If there are buildings or facilities that you are interested in that are not on the official tour, make sure to find out where they are and visit them before you leave campus. I always make sure to re-visit the Student Union or Campus Center and grab a soda or cup of coffee and watch the students coming and going to see if they look like people I would enjoy going to school with. Another good thing to do is actually go up to a group of students and engage them in conversation and ask them what they do on campus and how they like going to school there. They will usually be very honest and unscripted and you will get a lot of truthful information about the school and campus life. Once you are done and get back in the car, immediately take your notebook reserved for campus visits, and write down your thoughts about the school, good and bad, as you will see many schools and you want to capture your thoughts about this school while they are fresh in your mind. Then later on you can compare them with other schools that you visit. This is key. Remember enjoy your visit to schools - this is a fun part of the college search process.

Cheryl Millington

What are some tips for college visits?

There are many events that are specifically for future students that you’ll get invitations to attend. But note you’ll likely to get the ‘glossy’ view of the campus. But on the positive side, you’ll have a chance to see cool experiments, take part in fun activities or have access to areas that are normally closed to regular visitors. If you can, still try to visit another time during the school year so you can see and feel what a regular day is like. I recommend to start or end the visit around lunch time so you can have a meal on campus. This gives you the opportunity to taste and see the food options on campus, but also speak to students in the cafeteria to get their opinions of their experience at this school. Prepare your questions beforehand and try to get answers to all of them. Take photographs especially of the dorms to help you remember later on what you saw. You`ll be surprise that after a couple of campus visits how your memory is not as sharp as you`ll like.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

What are some tips for college visits?

Please don't ask anything that can be found by looking the information up. This is your chance to really gain the student perspective. Ask questions that relate to you as the learner or you as the potential student. Look for verification as to why a particular school is on your list. Ask questions that provide proof that what you are looking at is the real deal. Eat in the cafeteria. Pull a student or professor aside and ask them what they think of the school and if they like where the school is headed with their vision.