By Stewart BrownThis article is An unofficial visit is when you visit a college or university and you (or your parents) pay for the travel costs to and from campus, any meals that you eat while on campus and any other expense that goes along with your trip. You have an unlimited number of unofficial visits and can visit the same school on numerous occasions if needed.We suggest that you begin to take unofficial visits as early as your freshman year, but definitely by your sophomore year. Taking these visits and seeing collegiate competition allows you to gain an understanding of the demands that are placed on college athletes. In addition you will gain an understanding of what you enjoy about the campus: the size and location and, if you get the opportunity to talk with a coach, you will gain an understanding of their program and how you would fit in with them. START LOCAL: Visit as many different types of schools as possible. You will want to compare NCAA1 programs with NCAA2 and NCAA3 programs and where you see yourself being able to succeed, and even gain a scholarship. Remember that not every NCAA1 program is better than either NCAA2 or NCAA3 programs. If you are interested in attending an institution out-of-state find a comparable institution in-state. May schools have similar campuses. For example if you live in Texas but are interested in Purdue University, visit Texas A&M. If you live in South Carolina and are interested in the University of Portland, visit Furman University. These institutions are similar in academics, athletics, and campus feel. This is a cheaper way for you to gain an understanding of what you like. When planning your visit follow the checklist in the PrimeScout Workbook and make sure you are prepared to meet with the coach (if applicable). If you are meeting with a coach prepare a selection of questions to ask him or her and be ready to answer questions about yourself and what you are looking for academically, athletically, and socially with your college choices.