Man with earring and curly hair wearing button up and backpack in a city

The Worst Campus Visit Mistakes to Avoid

As a crucial part of the college search, campus visits take a lot of time and effort. Be sure to avoid making these mistakes while you're there!

A campus visit can be a pretty casual event, but just because you can waltz onto a school’s grounds unprepared and unannounced doesn’t mean you should. Campus visits deserve time and effort so you can get the most out of them—because after all, how can you expect to really know a school is the right fit if you don’t take the time to get to know it? To make your college tours go as smoothly and productively as possible, try to avoid making the following mistakes.

Not planning out your day

With campus visits, planning is everything! First, it’s often best to visit when class is in session, so you can get a feel for what the school is really like, not just a summertime ghost town. You should also make sure you check for any posted times when the general public is allowed to visit or to see if the college is closed for a holiday. Also, if you want to learn more about any programs in particular, get in touch with the school administrators in advance to see if you can plan your tour around their schedule. For example, if you want to join a particular athletic team, call the coaching staff to see when you best fit in with their schedule for a tour. They can give you great insight into the school as well as information about the sport you want to play. What better way to find out how much the team practices and how much they travel than from the assistant or head coach themselves?

Related: An Important Checklist to Plan Your First Official College Visits

Leaving right away

After your on-campus tour, sit down and get a meal in the cafeteria, browse through their library, or pick up a college newspaper to see what cool stuff is going on at the moment. You should also try to ask a student (or several) what they do on the weekend with friends or what the general campus “vibe” is. Take as much time as you need/can to get to know the campus better.

Not taking notes

Even after a few visits, they all can seem to blur into one. Make sure to take notes while on your tour so you remember cool facts about the school! You can also make note of how you feel about the school (that’s what the tour is about, after all!). Plus, if you schedule a tour with a student ambassador or a coach, they're going to let you in on some insider stuff about the school, like the best coffee in town, the quietest place on campus, and the best places to go on weekends. You don’t want to forget that stuff!

Not asking questions

Always ask questions. Tour guides want you to participate! Just don’t ask super easy questions you could figure out on your own with a two-second Google search, like “How many students go here?” Take some time to come up with a list of questions you really want to know the answers to. Ask the tour guide for any interesting, little-known facts about the school. For example, they could tell you a little about any study abroad programs the school offers—a great opportunity for meeting new people, engaging in different cultures, and seeing new places.

Related: Important and Unique Questions to Ask on Campus Visits

Skipping exploring the campus yourself

It’s important to see the student commons or student living area at any university. This is the place where you can stop by, see your friends, and maybe even grab a quick snack before class. It’s like the social center of student life, so be sure to find it and see what’s going on in there.

Not following the school on social media

Go on and follow all the schools you visit on social media. This can open lots of doors and clue you in on special insights. If the school has its own campus news or admission handles, follow them too! They usually are the ones to tweet out great deals at local eateries or discounts at a local music festival. They can also let you know how a school’s teams are doing over the course of the season. Additionally, being present on schools’ social platforms will help you connect with other students when you choose a school.

Letting others form your opinion

Tour guides are often really driven students who genuinely love their school and want to show and tell you all the great things about it. But remember that they are trying to sell you something; they want you to go there. Their enthusiasm can be infectious, but don’t get carried away with it. You need to make this decision on your own! (That’s why it’s important to stick around after the tour to adventure on your own.) Always ask yourself, “Can I see myself living and loving it here?” If not, it may not be the school for you.

Related: How to Choose a College That’s Right for You

Waiting too long to start

Don’t wait until senior year to start researching and visiting your college options. You can start thinking about the college-related things you like and dislike, like location, majors, and extracurriculars sophomore year, even earlier. Maybe you don’t like the cold, so the University of Alaska is definitely not for you! Maybe you even know what type of academic programs you like, whether it’s science, art, or business related. Then you can start narrowing down universities to ones that have everything your dream school would have.

Bonus mistake: Crossing off schools you can’t visit

Don’t just scratch a school off your list if you can’t make a college tour. Yes, campus visits are important, and you should try to get yourself there. But many universities now have virtual online tours, which can take you around the campus. If you check the college’s website there may even be videos that can help you determine if the school is the right choice for you. And you might be able to get a travel voucher or other help in getting to know the campus better. Just ask the admission office!

Related: Video: 4 Tips to Narrow Down Your College List

Campus visits should be a really fun part of the college search process, and planning ahead will only make them more enjoyable because you’ll be less stressed about how they’re going to go. Avoid these mistakes and start planning your college visits now!

For more advice on planning your college tours, check out our Campus Visits section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find Allegheny College with the super-user-friendly search tool for both schools and scholarships. Using CollegeXpress, I was able to search for programs I was interested in studying and find colleges that offered those programs. Also, once you search for the college, CollegeXpress can get you connected!

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me gain interest in many colleges/universities and many scholarships. I would say the most helpful thing CollegeXpress has done for me is sending me emails that tell me certain types of colleges are interested in me as well as emails about scholarships that I can look at and possibly apply for.

Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro


For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

Sarah Armstrong

Sarah Armstrong

High School Class of 2022

I am a deaf student, and I had always dreamed of going to Gallaudet University. CollegeXpress helped me search though other qualified universities. They helped me know for sure that Gallaudet University was the right choice for me!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Saginaw Valley State University

University Center, MI

Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, PA

Ohio University

Athens, OH

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI