What should I make sure to do and see on a college visit aside from the tour?
If you are on an organized college tour that will be visiting a series of colleges, your time will be relatively strictly scheduled. You will probably sit in on an information session and be taken on a tour of the institution. You may also have time scheduled for a meal at one of the campus dining facilities. Otherwise, you will not have much, if any, time for any independent investigation.
Assuming that you are on an individual college visit, however, you will be able to organize your time to suit you. During the campus tour, you will probably be taken to various academic facilities, sports facilities, the student center, performance or art facilities, dormitories, the library, the bookstore, etc. You will also be shown any outstanding campus landmarks and will be told about some of the campus "legends" or customs. The tours are usually quite comprehensive, but will not allow you to spend much time at each location.
Plan to attend an information session. Many of your questions will be answered during the presentation, and at the Q&A period at the end of the session, you can ask further questions if some areas are still unclear.
If the college requires or recommends an interview, set up an appointment before your visit. You might find that having an interview appointment after the information session and the tour will give you more confidence in the interview. On the other hand, you may want to schedule the appointment to take place at the beginning of your visit before you're hot and tired from the information session and the tour. That's, of course, up to you.
At the beginning of the college search process, you should have done some serious soul-searching into what you hope to gain from your college experience. If you have extra time on campus, investigate the campus offerings which address the aspects you've identified as being important to you. Outside of the tour and the information session, what a student chooses to do and see while visiting a college will hinge on what his/her personal interests are and what direction he/she hopes to follow at the college. Some things you might choose to do are:
- Go back to any of the sites visited on the tour at which you would like to spend more time. Access to some of the sites is only possible while on an organized tour, however.
- Arrange to have lunch at one of the dining facilities.
- If school is in session, talk to current students about their impressions of the school.
- If school is in session, attend a student performance, sports activity, or art exhibit.
- Have an interview with a coach in the sport you'd like to pursue at college. Be sure to make the appointment ahead of time while planning your campus visit. Be well prepared so that you can find out as much as possible about relevant sports programs, as well as present yourself in a positive light.
- Have an interview with a professor or professors in the field(s) in which you're interested. Again, be sure to make the appointment ahead of time, while planning your campus visit. If you have scheduled interviews, be well prepared for them. You don't want to waste the time of the person which whom you will be speaking.
- Just wander around campus, getting a feel for the environment.
Visiting a campus is one of the best ways to determine whether that college will be the right choice for you. Make an effort to find out as much as possible during that visit.