Campus visits are an integral part of the college search process and often one of the more fun aspects—getting to spend a day at a potential college is much less laborious than writing admission essays and sending in applications. Visits also give you a true understanding of what a college is like. Signing up for a campus tour or information session is certainly the best way to see a school, and there are several ways to get the most out of your time while visiting campus.
1. Get acquainted first
Before registering for a tour or information session, make sure to read about the school online to determine that it truly is a place you want to visit. Although you shouldn’t decide on a school completely based on information from the internet, it’s a good idea to check information regarding admission statistics, student body size, financial aid, and majors/minors in order to make sure exploring the school is worth your time. That way you can get more specific information about your program or campus activities when you visit.
Related: Top Tips to Help You Decide Which Colleges to Visit in Person
2. Arrive early
When attending an information session or campus tour, getting there at least half an hour in advance is a must. You never want to be the prospective student who strolls in 10 minutes late, because that reflects poorly on you to admission counselors. Plus, getting there early gives you enough time to explore nearby buildings that tours might not go through. It also gives you some leeway should you have difficulty finding the location of the tour or session.
Although this may seem like a given, the admission officers you talk to and student tour guides are in the best position to give the most informative background on the school, so make sure to take in all the information they have to offer while you’re there. Feel free to take notes if you think you’ll forget anything they tell you. You also want to listen or ask for their contact information in case you have any questions after the tour or session.
4. Ask questions
Once again, the admission officers and tour guides are extremely knowledgeable, so asking questions is imperative. Student tour guides are especially helpful considering they’ve been in the same place as prospective students, which practically makes them experts on the decision-making process. Students are also good sources of information about subjects such as Greek life, school spirit, academic rigor, and life around campus that may not come up in a typical information session led by an admission officer. And make sure to ask admission counselors any questions you have about the application process or financial aid. They’ll usually know more on those topics than student guides.
Related: The Essential List of Campus Visit Questions
5. Walk around campus after
Although campus tours offer a view of some of the most important places at a school, they don’t cover the entire campus. If you’re interested in a certain major, it’s a good idea to find the academic building(s) that house that department. Visiting the student center or dining hall can also be a great way to see the school’s culture and student life. Drawing back to the importance of asking questions, you can also ask your tour guide what areas of campus they recommend visiting that the tour didn’t cover.
6. Eat on or around campus
Many colleges and college towns have their fair share of popular restaurants frequented by students. Visiting them not only means great food but getting to see the local vibe and what’s big among students and residents. Ask your tour guide what their favorite local restaurant is or what restaurants are popular among students. Some schools will also give you lunch vouchers so you can try their cafeteria, which is a great way to preview your dining options for the next four years.
7. See a game
If you have enough time, seeing a sports game on campus is a great way to root for the school you’re visiting as well as check out the amount of school spirit a college has. If there isn’t a game available when you’re visiting, ask some current students how big a role sports play in campus culture.
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Going on college visits should be a fun and exciting experience for all college-bound students, but they do require careful planning to make sure you’re visiting the right schools, visiting as many colleges as possible, and focusing on what’s really important when you get there. Use these tips to help guide your planning, and get out there and learn about some awesome colleges.
Prepare for your campus visits by exploring your colleges of interest with our College Search tool.