If you’re planning to go to college soon, visiting campuses is an essential part of the decision-making process. But with so many colleges out there, it can be tough to know where to start. In this article, we’ll share some college trip tips to help you plan your visit and make the most of your time on campus. Why Should You Visit? You wouldn’t buy a new car without test-driving it first, right? The same goes for your college education. Brochures and websites can give you an idea of what a school is like, but nothing compares to experiencing it in person. By visiting a college, you can get a better sense of whether it’s a good fit for you and your goals. Which Should You Visit? While it’s important to visit the colleges on your list, don’t be afraid to explore other options as well. If you’re focused on urban schools, consider visiting a few rural liberal arts colleges. If you’re only looking at public universities, check out some private schools that meet your criteria. You might be surprised by what you discover. Leave a Footprint Visiting a college isn’t just about finding the right fit for you. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the school. Admissions officers want to admit students who are excited about attending, and visiting a campus is a great way to show that enthusiasm. Be sure to register for your visit and take a guided tour if possible. When Should You Visit? If you haven’t had a chance to visit any schools on your list this spring, consider taking some road trips this summer to narrow down your options. While summer visits don’t give you the chance to see campus life in action, they do allow you to explore the facilities, chat with professors and coaches, and get a feel for the surrounding community. Preparing For Your Trip Before you hit the road, be sure to check out each college’s website for visitor information. Make note of tour and information session times, registration instructions, and directions to campus. With a little planning, you can maximize your time and see as much as possible. If you have questions before your visit, don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions counselor for your region. The Day of Your Visit On the day of your visit, start with a good breakfast to fuel your long day ahead. Allow extra time to get to campus, find parking, and locate the admissions building. Once you’re there, be sure to check in and get your bearings. Tours During the tour, try to position yourself at the front of the group so you can hear everything the guide says. Feel free to ask questions along the way, especially if you want to know something that isn’t readily available on the college’s website. Take pictures to help you remember what you saw, and be sure to thank your tour guide at the end. Informational Sessions The information session is your chance to learn more about the application process at a particular school. Some sessions are large, while others may be more intimate. Either way, take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and get a better sense of what the college is looking for in applicants. The Big Interview If you have an interview scheduled, don’t panic! Think of it as a conversation rather than an interrogation. Be prepared to talk about yourself and your interests, and don’t be afraid to address any discrepancies on your transcript or share any special qualities that aren’t evident on your application. When You Leave After your visit, take some time to jot down your impressions of each school before they fade. This can help you recall your thoughts and feelings about each college and make informed decisions when you are comparing them later on. Thank You Note If you had an interview during your visit, it is polite to send a thank you note to the interviewer. This can help you show your appreciation and stand out from other applicants who did not take the time to express their gratitude. Grab Lunch If you have some time left, consider grabbing lunch in the dining hall or a nearby restaurant that is popular among the students. This can give you a chance to sample the campus cuisine and get a feel for the local food scene. One Final Note If you are on the fence about a particular college after a visit, perhaps it might be worth your time to re-visit when college is back in session. This can give you a chance to experience the campus life and interact with students during a regular school day. Similarly, if you absolutely loved a college, visiting again can help you confirm your decision and make sure it is the right fit for you.