Alright, you’ve decided which colleges will have the pleasure of reviewing your application…now what? Before you go all in and submit the application, it’s a good idea to visit and take a tour of the colleges that seem appealing to you on paper. Going to visit a college is a crucial part of the application process, and we’ve got some tips to make sure you get the most out of your visits.
- Plan ahead. Deciding what school is right for you is a huge decision. Start thinking about it now, so you have enough time to decide what college is best for you. Then, you’ll have more opportunity to visit schools—maybe even more than once—if you’re having trouble making up your mind. The College Board’s College MatchMaker tool is also helpful for finding schools that fit your criteria.
- Schedule your visit. Popping up on campus unannounced? Maybe not the best idea. Call or visit the website of the schools you’re interested in to schedule an organized tour of campus. Keep in mind that schools around the country typically have vacations around the same time of year—so reserve your spot early! You’ll have time to walk around on your own after you’ve gotten an introduction to the area.
- Go while school is in session. You’ll get a much better idea of campus life, class sizes, and student body if you go during the academic year, and can see the college functioning as it would if you were a student. Maybe you’ll even get a chance to pop into a lecture hall and watch class in action.
- Take notes. A lot of information is going to be thrown your way—make sure you write stuff down so you can remember what you liked about the places you visit.
- Use your connections! Maybe you thought you had nothing in common with your best friend’s older sister, but if she goes to a college you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to call her! Hanging out with a student on campus and checking out student life is a really great way to see if the school is a good fit for you.
- Eat something. Chances are, there will be a way for you to have something to eat in a campus dining hall—don’t miss out on the chance. Disliking your dinner for four years straight would be rough, right? While you’re at it, make sure you check out other campus amenities that might be important to you, like the student gym and library.
- Check out the surrounding area. You won’t spend every minute in class or at the library, so make sure you have access to the things you like to do. What are the options around town if you’re into outdoor sports like hiking, skiing or golf? If you’re a movie buff, is there a theater nearby?
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask students or your tour guide any questions you might have. If a dining hall with vegetarian options is important to you, ask about it!
Most importantly, be on the lookout for things that are important to you that will affect how you learn and get along with other students. There are so many colleges, you’re bound to find one that’s the right fit for you with a bit of planning and research.