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

The Worst Campus Visit Mistakes to Avoid

Campus visits are a crucial part of the college search process--it deserves your time and effort. Try to avoid making these 10 campus visit mistakes.

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 these 10 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 get best fit in with their schedule for a tour. They can give you great insight to 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: Checklist for Planning Your First Campus 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 are going to let you in on some insider stuff about the school, like the best coffee in town, quietest place on campus, and 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 is 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 the school’s teams are doing over the course of the season. Additionally, being present on your 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 10 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

For a long time, I've been searching everywhere to find the perfect website I can get scholarships and information from. Needless to say, I could never find the right one. That was, until I found CollegeXpress. Through my journey of finding the right scholarships for me, I was able to find articles about different things. They've all been helpful, especially in times like this! I was even able to connect with some of my favorite colleges! I love CollegeXpress. Thank you!

Caio Matos

Caio Matos

High School Class of 2022

Starting the college admissions process as an international student was daunting. Thankfully, CollegeXpress was the first website I used for that cause and it helped me so much, from knowing where to start to deciding what my next move would be. I'll take a gap year, but I’m certainly using the website again when applying for fall 2023.



High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris


For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services! I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

College Matches