What are some tips for college visits?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

What are some tips for college visits?

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

What are some tips for college visits?

if you have your own counselor to work with you, your counselor may set up interviews with the admissions office and other people. that's the best way to go. if you do not have a counselor, you should visit schools with other seniors or classmates to gain different perspectives. if your parents are helpful and able to share their perspectives with you, you should consider their inputs seriouly. if you have college friends, they can help you with their experiences as well.

Kim Glenchur
Educational Consultant CollegesGPS

Reflect on differences between colleges

When possible, visit a college during an academic term, when the normal campus rhythms of classes and dorm life are evident. Colleges have different student demographics, facilities, majors, programs, resources, and personalities. Extracurricular activities, academic support, social fit, cost, and the outcomes of a college's graduates will likely factor into the search process. The basic question: If accepted, would the student flourish on that campus, studying and socializing for a few years until graduation?

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.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Campus visits: dos and don'ts

The process of picking a school isn’t complete without the campus visit. Most colleges look pretty good as you flip through their glossy brochures and read statistics about their star students and athletes, but it’s important to inform yourself to make sure you’re getting the most trustworthy information. One of the best ways to do that is by visiting and touring the campus in person to get a feel for the atmosphere. Much can be accomplished during one of these excursions, and it’s important to plan well so you can get the most out of it. Taking a look at the following dos and don’ts will help ensure that you don’t waste your time. DON’T assume that you can take whatever time off you want to head to your chosen schools. DO check with the campus to see if they have special visiting days or events for prospective freshmen. DO check with your high school to see what their policy is regarding time off for campus visits. It doesn’t hurt to check with your parents as well to see if their vacation time can mesh with your high school’s policy. DON’T think you can see five colleges a day, five days a week, cover 8 different states and get anything useful out of your trip. If you’re going on a big road trip, DO plan on seeing no more than five colleges in three days, and plan well in terms of driving distances so you can figure out what schools are the most sensible to visit in a single trip or a single day. Plan hotel and motel reservations accordingly. Also, DO save the colleges that are one to two hours away from your house for day trips. DON’T just show up without doing any research on your destination or asking any questions at the visitors center. DO find out if you need an interview to apply for the college you’re visiting, so you can knock it out while you’re there. DO call the school a few days in advance to set up your visit, tour and interview, and have a list of two or three possible dates on which you can meet. DO find out what is on the tour, and, if there’s something you want to see that isn’t listed (classes, labs, sports facilities, theater, etc.), ask them if you can tour it, as well. DO ask if you can see professors from your prospective major, students that might share your same interests or coaches for your sport. You may have to call specific departments, but these meetings will be invaluable to you in deciding if this school is the place for you and meets your needs. DON’T forget to confirm your appointment. DO remember that colleges are busy places and you are not the only prospective student visiting that week or even that day. Call the day before to confirm your visit, tour and, if scheduled, your interview. DON’T forget to make sure everyone you met with remembers you. DO send your interviewer a thank-you note along with any professors, coaches or students you meet with. It’s a simple thing that makes you stand out. The perfect college visit allows you to simultaneously learn about the institution while they learn about you. Not only does that result in you being able to make a more informed decision about where to attend, the campus visit can allow the administration to see you in a new light, and when they receive your application, remember that this was a qualified student who was also very professional and interested in attending. Visiting the right way can only help you, as long as you take advantage of the opportunities available.

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.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

College Visit Tips

A visit to campus is the chance to get a feel for the vibe of the school. Pick a class of interest and sit in on the lecture/discussion. See if you can connect with a faculty member in your area of interest. Have a meal in the cafeteria and initiate conversation with your table mates. Pick up the school newspaper to read when you get home. Pay attention to bulletin board postings, student activity tables, library traffic. Try to get a sense for how engaged the students are on campus. Do folks stay around on the weekend, if so what do they do? Make sure the residence halls look like a place you'd feel good about going home to after a tough day of classes. If recreation is important to you, are you pleased with the facilities? And most of all, if possible see if you can spend an overnight on campus. That is when you'll really see what goes on.

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?

kati swanson
Counselor TMCC HS

Getting the most out of your college visit

You have spent time researching institutions and you have narrowed down your list of possible colleges, it is time to experience these institutions first hand. To get the most out of your visit make sure you have researched the institution thoroughly. A few weeks before your visit call the admissions office and make an appointment to take a tour, meet with an admission representative or attend an information session. Visit the campus when school is in session, campuses have a much different feel when they are full of students. Prepare a list of questions ahead of the visit, using the same questions at several institutions will allow you to compare colleges. Ask if they have an overnight visiting opportunity, spending the night will really give you a feel for the school. Bottom line research the school, call ahead to make arrangements and make a list of questions before the visit.

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?