College visits are one of the most important things to do when choosing a college. College visits will provide students the opportunity to check out the campus, talk to current students on campus, and learn more about the school that they may have missed out on if they did not take a college visit.
College visits will help students get a better feel for the school while also allowing them to compare different schools and their campuses. Students may think they really like school #1 but they might take a college visit to school #2 and like it even more. Find out everything you need to know about college visits in our guide below.
When Should I Visit?
This is a matter of personal preference. We recommend students visit before their applications are due, so when they do submit their applications they will feel confident with all of the schools they are applying to. Some students may want to get ahead of the process and start college visits at the end of their junior year of high school. Other students may want to wait until the start of their senior year so that the schools are fresh in their minds when they start the application process.
Picking a Date
When scheduling a date to visit, plan ahead of time so that you can see the things you want to see, as well as talk to the people you need to talk to. If you want to see what the campus is like on college football Saturday, plan a visit for a weekend when the football team is playing at home. If you want to talk to the dean of the business school to learn more about the different business majors they offer, plan a visit around the dean’s availability.
The Best Times
The best time to schedule a college visit is going to be when classes are in session. Having classes in session means that students are out and about on campus, which can really give you a great feel for the campus. The spring semester of your junior year in high school can be a good time to visit, but only if you have researched some schools beforehand.
Another great time to visit is the fall semester of your senior year. Visiting early on, during your senior year of high school, can really help you narrow down your college choices. The schools will be fresh in your mind – right before you start the college application process.
After you have been accepted to a school they may invite you to visit for a couple of days before the May 1st decision deadline. This is a great opportunity to get a last chance feel for the school before making any decisions. Hopefully you have already visited this school, so this post-acceptance visit will be your second visit which will allow you to confirm what you already know. This is a great opportunity to stay with any friends you may have that already attend the school – a college visit with friends that go there is a great way to get a feel for a school.
When Not to Take College Visits
The biggest thing you want to get out of a college visit is the feel and vibe of the school. The best way to figure those out is by visiting when the campus is in full swing. You do not want to visit when no one is on campus and the campus is dead. Winter, spring and summer breaks are not good times to visit because everyone is on break and not on campus.
Thanksgiving break and Christmas break are also not great times to visit for the same reasons. Saturdays and Sundays aren’t the worst thing in the world but you may get a different feel as there will be a bunch of extra things going on because it’s the weekend. For more information on scheduling college visits, check out this awesome resource.
College Visit Checklist
What Should I Do On My College Visits?
Since its not practical to visit every college in the United States, you want to make sure you get the most out of your college visits. It is important to have some interests in mind before going on any college visit. By having some interests in mind, you can pinpoint some things you want to see on campus. For example, if you are planning on being a communications major, you will want to check out the communications buildings and classrooms – you can probably skip out on the arts center.
- Before parking, drive around campus so you can get an initial impression of the campus.
- Speak with an admissions officer. Some schools even require you to interview with an admissions officer so this is a great time to do that!
- Stop in the financial aid office and talk with someone there to get an idea of what aid you may qualify for.
- If you happen to know what you intend to major in, setup a meeting with the dean of that major. So, if you intend to major in psychology, talk with the dean of psychology and that person will be able to give you a great idea of what to expect.
- Depending on the school they may have you on a guided walking tour with a current student or they may have an admissions officer walk you around campus. Make sure if you have an admissions officer walking you around that you eventually talk with a student and ask him/her the questions only a student would be able to answer.
- See the freshmen dorms, dining halls, student center/recreation center, classrooms, library, career center and athletic facilities.
- Sit in on a class that is interesting to you. This is a great opportunity to get a feel for the learning environment at the school. Talk with students in the class and even the professor.
Questions To Ask On A College Visit
Asking questions allows you to get answers about the school. These answers may or may not be what you want to hear. Admissions officers are going to tend to tell you what you want to hear, while students tend to be more honest and upfront with you. Talk with students as often as possible when on your college visits. Here are some questions to ask on a college visit:
- What do you like about the school?
- What do you dislike about the school?
- Why did you choose this school?
- What do you do on the weekends?
- What are other students on campus like?
- Is there anything you would change about the school?
- How much time do you spend on homework and studying?
- How are the job prospects for students graduating?
- Are their tutoring programs available for students?
These are only a few sample college visit questions you should ask. There are hundreds of questions you can ask that will help enhance your college visits.
College Visit Resources
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