Campus Visits: Places to Go and Questions to Ask

Why are campus visits so important? For all the online research and virtual tours you can do, there really is no better way to get a sense of how you truly feel about a school until you step foot on its grounds. It’s an invaluable opportunity to get a sense of what your life will be like as a student there. You will have a gut reaction, and that’s something you just can’t get anywhere else. 

Below you’ll find a basic list of campus hotspots you should try to hit on any campus visit and questions you should ask. You might see these places on your formal tour, but if not, explore campus on your own if you can! Talk to students, professors, your tour guide, admission staff—anyone. You should also take advantage of meeting with an admission counselor for an interview. In addition, we've included the top factors to consider when researching and finally choosing your college, along with questions you can ask while you're visiting campuses.

Places to visit on your college tour

Campus quad

  • How friendly and welcoming is the campus?
  • How easy is it to get around campus?
  • How easy is it to get from campus to the nearest town or city?
  • Where do students do their shopping (groceries, dorm essentials, clothing, etc.)?

Dorms

  • What is the campus crime rate like?
  • Is there any sort of late-night shuttle service?
  • How many dorms are there, and how do they differ?
  • What's the dorms' security protocol like?
  • What are the off-campus living options, and what do they typically cost?

Related: A Handy Guide to Surviving Dorm Life

Library

  • What’s the academic vibe like on campus?
  • What are midterms and finals like?
  • How many computer labs are available to students, and is there IT assistance?
  • How many quiet spaces are there for studying?
  • Does the school have access to any additional library collections (local or other school libraries)?

Student union

  • What’s the social vibe like on campus?
  • What’s the campus like on weekends?
  • How involved are students in extracurriculars?
  • Which activities are most popular?
  • Are any art or music practice spaces available to non-majors?
  • What’s Greek life like, and how do students feel about it?
  • What do students do for fun on campus and off?

Gym

  • How popular is the gym, and how late is it open?
  • Do non-varsity players have access to all athletic facilities?
  • How active is the student body in terms of sports?
  • How engaged are student fans in campus sporting events?

Related: 5 College Search Tips for Student-Athletes

Dining hall

  • How’s the food? (Pro tip: eat it!)
  • Are meal plans required?
  • What other dining options are there on and around campus?
  • Do they cater to food allergies or other special dietary needs?

Academic center

  • Do teaching assistants ever teach classes?
  • How accessible are professors typically, and do they hold office hours?
  • What student-faculty research opportunities exist for undergraduates?
  • What kinds of mentoring and advising relationships do students and faculty have?
  • What tutoring services are available to students?
  • How do class sizes compare between freshman/introductory courses and upper-level classes?

Wellness center

  • What services does the health center offer?
  • How do students typically pay for wellness center services and treatment?
  • What kinds of counseling and/or mental health services are available on campus?
  • Are any stress-relief initiatives offered during midterms and finals?

Career center

  • Where have students interned?
  • How long does it typically take recent grads to find a full-time job in their career field?
  • Are there any formal internship arrangements with companies in the area?
  • What kind of career advisement is offered?
  • Do students have access to these services after they graduate?
  • What networking or career fairs are held each year?
  • How involved are alumni?
  • What kinds of on-campus or local part-time jobs are available?

Related: 9 Reasons to Use the Career Center Before Senior Year

Important factors to consider when choosing a college

Sure, when it comes to finding the right college, every high school student's needs and wants will be different. But these seven categories apply to just about anyone's search!

Academics

  • Does the school have not just your ideal major but several good backups in case you change your mind?
  • What is the reputation of the faculty and the faculty in your major(s) in particular?
  • What are the academic facilities, libraries, and labs like?
  • What kind of research opportunities—not just in the sciences—exist on campus?

Affordability

  • What is the average financial aid package?
  • Does financial aid include loans?
  • What is the average student loan debt?
  • Is the school need-blind or need-aware in admission?
  • How many years does it typically take students to graduate?

Related: How to Get Financial Aid for College: The Ultimate Guide

Community

  • What is the social scene like on campus?
  • How many students live on campus full time?
  • How many stay on campus during the weekends?
  • How many are on campus during summer break?

Location

  • What is the “town-gown” relationship like between the college and surrounding community?
  • What are the area’s employment opportunities like for students as well as recent grads?
  • What’s the average cost of living and general quality of life?
  • What kinds of recreational opportunities are there?
  • How safe is the area?

Selectivity

  • What is the average admitted student’s academic profile like, and how does it compare to yours?
  • Is it a safety, reach, or realistic option for you?
  • Does the school take a holistic approach to admission decisions?

Related: What Do Colleges Want in an Applicant?

Support

  • What campus services and resources are available to students, such as tutoring, career guidance, and mental health?
  • How many students take advantage of these resources?
  • How accessible are these resources? Where are they located on campus?
  • Are any of those services available to you after you graduate?

Enrichment

  • What kinds of extracurricular opportunities exist on campus?
  • How many students participate in extracurriculars?
  • How easy is it to start your own club?
  • What kinds of experiential education opportunities, such as internships, co-ops, research, and volunteering, exist on and around campus?

And remember, you don’t have to ask all these questions in one visit. Just make an effort to determine the answers over time, whether during your campus visits or through further research. Good luck and have fun! 

Check out our Campus Visits section for more advice to take with you on your next tour, and find schools to visit using our College Search tool.

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