Spring is a really important time for high school students—juniors especially. Now is the perfect time to start scoping out colleges you may want to apply to, and the most crucial part of this process is actually going and visiting them! Stepping foot on the grounds of where you may be spending the next four years of your life can be a daunting task, but if you follow this simple checklist, you’ll be in perfect shape for a college tour.
1. Talk to your parents about dates and locations
Make sure you and your parents, guardians, or travel companions are on the same page when it comes to what dates you are available to visit colleges as well as how far they want to travel. Some people prefer starting more locally when it comes to college visits, but others may want to travel across the country first and make a big trip out of it. And keep in mind, even if you're not interested in local colleges near where you live, they can still be a great source of information to find out what you do and don't like in a college without having to spend the extra money.
2. Find out what colleges you want to visit
After picking out dates and locations, do some research on colleges in those locations (if you're not sure which ones you want to visit yet). You can go on tons of websites, including CollegeXpress, to find out basic information about colleges within the location(s) you're going to be traveling to. If you're planning a trip with the intention of visiting a few colleges, make sure to plan a healthy mix of the college you’re most excited about as well as ones you may consider back-up colleges. Getting a wide perspective on different kinds of colleges will help you better decide what’s right for you than if you only went to the schools you’re already really excited about.
Related: How to Decide Which Colleges to Visit in Person
3. Check out the websites of your colleges of interest
Next, you should go to the website of each college you are interested in and find the section about visiting campus. Usually colleges will have a page dedicated to scheduling visits that explains what to expect on a campus tour. Explore these pages and make sure the colleges have available tours on your intended visit dates. Some schools may even have separate tours for different academic areas, so if you know what you are interested in studying, look into a major- or department-specific tour.
4. Register for your visits
After you’ve found available tours for the colleges you’re interested in, make sure to register for them as early as possible and set up a schedule with your parents or guardians (or whoever will be traveling with you) that’s reasonable. Official tours can fill up fast with all the prospective students checking out colleges during college visit time, so don’t beat around the bush and risk not getting a spot in the official tours for the colleges you care about most. Don’t visit too many colleges in one day, or you might get really tired and start forgetting things all the schools you visited!
Related: The 3 Main Types of College Visits
5. Talk to your counselor
Now that you’ve registered for your tours and your family has a college visit itinerary, make sure to talk to your high school’s counselor or advisor. Tell them which colleges you are going to visit and when. They may have some suggestions for you regarding what buildings to check out on campus or even alumni from your high school that you could meet up with while you are visiting.
6. Be attentive, and don’t be afraid to ask questions
The time has finally come and you are on your first college visit! Be sure to pay attention to your tour guide or information session leader, and take notes if you think you might forget some important facts. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have, because this may be the only time you can get answers straight from the source. Most of all, have fun and enjoy your first taste of college life!
Related: The Essential List of Campus Visit Questions
AS you’re conducting your college search, you should try to go on as many campus visits as you feasible can. Obviously, don’t break the bank if you can’t afford it. But witnessing a college for yourself is the best way to know what’s right for you. Use these tips to plan your initial trip but keep your eyes and heart open to adapt as you go to make the most out of your campus visits your way.
Not sure which schools you want to visit first? That’s okay! Our College Search tool can help you figure it out.