Campus visits are an integral part of the college admissions process. While they aren’t required, they are highly encouraged. This is because it’s important to take the time to see a school, experience campus life, and observe student life first-hand.
There are many factors to consider when planning a college visit. We want to help you be as prepared as possible for this crucial—and often fun—part of the college selection process.,
Planning a College Visit
The first step to any college visit is, of course, planning. Generally, planning a college visit is as simple as deciding which school to visit, then scheduling the visit. Even so, there are several different ways that you can experience a college visit:
Schedule the visit through the university
Every college has an admissions office. You can generally reach them by phone, email, or through the college website in order to schedule an official visit. The admissions office can help you plan the visit and will likely schedule time with an admissions counselor who can help you get around and answer your questions.
Go on a guided tour with your high school
High schools will often schedule guided group tours of local colleges and universities for juniors and seniors. These are typically simple to attend and often make the logistics of the visit simpler because you are part of a group. One drawback of touring a college with your school is that such tours are usually only for local colleges, which limits your freedom to choose where to visit.
Wander the campus alone
College campuses are, for the most part, open to the public. You don’t need some secret code word to get on the grounds. With the exception of secure facilities or dorms, you can generally walk around college campuses by yourself. This can be a good way to blend in and get a feel for what student life is really like. Don’t be shy! Ask students you meet questions about campus. They’re going to know more (and sometimes be franker!) than a typical admissions officer. Just remember that no single student’s experience is necessarily exemplary of the student experience at large!
What to Expect When You Visit a Campus
Most scheduled college visits, whether they be organized for a group or for an individual, operate similarly. They feature a pretty basic structure that guides potential students through life at that particular college. You can generally expect:
An info session
The info session will start off the visit. This is done with an admissions counselor and they will take some time to discuss the college itself with you or your group. These generally only take 10-15 minutes but they set the visit’s tone.
A guided tour
A guided campus tour is generally the next step in a college visit. Tours are almost always led by a tour guide who’s a current student or a member of the admissions team. During the tour, you’ll get the chance to see facilities such as lecture halls, classrooms, dining halls, labs, libraries, and dorms, which should give you a good idea of the college campus.
Some college visits only last a few hours, and others are an overnight experience, where prospective students get two full days on campus. Overnight visits, allow prospective students to schedule extra experiences that may not be included in the basic visit. These can include:
- Meeting with a professor of your desired major.
- Meeting with an admissions officer personally.
- Meeting with financial aid officers.
- Having a meal in the dining hall.
- Attending a class or lecture.
- Attending a sporting or club event.
- Sleeping in a dorm room.
These little extras will often give you a more well-rounded vision of life at a given college.
How to Choose Which Colleges to Visit
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you will get the chance to visit every single college that interests you. Because of this, it’s important that you focus on visiting the handful of colleges that best fit your criteria. At HelloCollege we recommend looking at colleges that fit our S.A.F.E. model. That is, colleges that meet a student’s needs in the following areas:
You can view our infographic for S.A.F.E. questions to ask on a college visit.
How to Prepare For a College Visit
So, once a visit is scheduled, how should students prepare? First, it’s always a good idea to review any reading material you may have regarding the college. This includes their website, social media, and materials sent by the college.
Students may also want to prepare a list of questions to ask admissions officers and current students Students should also bring a notebook to take notes in and to list questions to ask people around campus.
Finally, students should remember to take lots of pictures and videos! These can help keep the visit fresh in mind and will help students and families to make more informed comparisons when it’s finally time to make a decision down the road.
At HelloCollege, we are passionate about helping students and their families through the college admissions process. We believe the best way to prepare for successful student life is to ensure students land in the perfect college for them. That’s why we work diligently to help students prepare for the process.
Read our other blog posts to learn more about college admissions and to review the tools and services we offer you to make this journey as smooth as possible!