Asian woman facing away with feet propped on desk writing in notebook

3 Things You Need to Do Before Visiting a College

So many colleges, so little time to visit! These three steps can help you narrow down your college list and make the most of your campus visits.

Visiting campus is an important step in making your final decision of which college to attend, but a long list of prospective schools may make visits seem overwhelming. Plus, if you have a ton of schools on your list, the expense of visiting each one in person can add up—both in terms of money and time! So which schools should you visit, and how do you figure that out before you go? Here are three steps you can take to narrow down your college list and make the most of your campus visits.

1. Research

Before you spend the time and money to go visit a campus, research general facts about that campus. How many students go there? Is it a rural, suburban, or urban campus? What majors and minors are available? Are you interested in any of the clubs listed on their website? Research is the first step to determine if a school is a good fit for you. If you are trying to narrow down a list of many colleges, comparing them based on these characteristics may help you decide which ones to actually visit. If you are unsure of what you want in a college, try to visit a variety of schools/campus types (for example: one rural, one suburban, one urban, etc.) to experience different environments.

Online reviews can be helpful in determining which schools have the best academic programs. If you haven’t yet made a list of colleges you are interested in, using rankings of the best schools for your intended major may give you new options to consider. In addition, there are many online resources that use multiple factors (location, size, academics, etc.) to narrow down which colleges you may be interested in. Eventually, you can use this research to form specific questions about a college to ask if you visit. This is a great way to show interest in a school. These questions can be about a major or minor you are interested in, internship opportunities, study abroad, or something else you are curious about. Just don’t ask questions that can be answered by checking a college’s website.

Related: How to Build the Perfect College List in High School 

2. Decide when to visit

Once you have decided which colleges to visit through your research, you should determine if there is a specific time that is best for you to visit. Students are more likely to be on campus during the school year than during the summer, and during the week rather than weekends; visiting while students are on campus will give you a more accurate feel of the campus vibe. If your school has any days off that other schools don’t, this is a perfect time to visit colleges.

Another great time to visit is when the college is holding an open house. This day will have set activities for deciding students and may give you more opportunities to experience the school by attending a class, hearing from a panel of students, eating in the dining hall, and meeting some of your future classmates. There are also opportunities during open houses for parents to attend workshops—for example, on financial aid—and have their questions answered. If you have already been accepted to a college, there are also admitted student days that are similar to open houses. These are extremely beneficial, as they provide you with a glimpse of your future classmates and a typical day at that college.

Related: How to Prepare for Your First Campus Visit 

3. Reach out to students

If you have a friend or acquaintance who goes to a school you are interested in, reaching out to them with questions, particularly on campus life and academic difficulty, can give you a new perspective on a college. If you’re close with that person, you could ask them to give you a tour or introduce you to their friends to see what the students at that school are like.

If you don’t know anyone at a college, some schools have overnights or shadowing opportunities, which can give you an authentic feel of the campus and allow you to get to know a current student. Feel free to ask students around campus how they feel about their school. Tour guides might have scripted answers to some questions, so asking average students what they like or dislike about their school is important in determining if they are happy with their choice.

Related: How to Overcome Anxiety and Talk to College Students on Campus Tours

Planning your campus visits doesn't have to be stressful! By researching the schools ahead of time, deciding when to visit, and reaching out to current students, you can make a plan to visit the colleges you could really see yourself attending in the future. Have fun and safe travels! 

Have more questions about campus visits? Check out our special Ask the Experts 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

Tags:

About Lauren Hassett

I love to read and discuss literature. I am involved in a debate and pre-law program, which I hope will prepare me for a future career as a lawyer. I study voice and perform in my school's show choir. I work part time at Wegmans as a cashier. 

 

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
Elizabeth Stafford

Elizabeth Stafford

High School Class of 2021

As a UK student moving to California due to my dad's job in the military, when I first signed up for CollegeXpress a few months ago, the college process ahead seemed daunting and incredibly stressful. That all changed after I started to explore what this website had to offer. Not only was I helped by the vast array of resources available to me, but through being a CollegeXpress member, there have been so many more benefits. There have been emails with college tips—all of which I found incredibly helpful—as well as invitations to events and notifications of scholarships that'll make college possible for me. Overall, I'm very grateful to CollegeXpress for all of these things and more. Not only have they helped me grow my understanding of the college process, but they've also helped me to grow as a person, giving me new skills that I can take with me through life.

Amari Toussaint

Amari Toussaint

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me narrow my school choices down from 10 schools to four and then two. It also gave me information on a school I had never heard about or thought about attending until now, which is the school I will be attending in the fall. I am thankful for CollegeXpress and its helpful tools.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

Keydi Banegas

Keydi Banegas

Scholarship for Students of Color Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress is a great application that helped me search for many different scholarships, and it narrows the scholarships depending on how you set your profile. Not only that, but it helps you choose different colleges to apply to by finding matches through the description of your profile. It was the best experience for me.

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

High School Class of 2022

I wanted a school that wasn't too far away from home and could provide me with a full-ride scholarship. CollegeXpress helped me put into perspective the money I had to pay to attend those schools, which ultimately drove me to choose to attend a community college first to get used to being in college before transferring to the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, one of the colleges I was able to research further on CollegeXpress.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

North Park University

Chicago, IL