Planning College Visits
There are many things to consider in preparation for effective college visits. Before setting foot on campuses, you must prepare and make sure that your timeline aligns with the school’s campus tour calendar and that the schools you visit are potential schools you would like to attend.
1. Research the schools you’re going to visit
Before visiting schools, we highly recommend you do quick research using the school’s website or other resources like US News, Niche, or Forbes to have an overview of the college or university and prevent unexpected surprises when visiting. You should remember facts like campus size, academic majors, extracurricular activities, financial aid – any information available on the internet. Having a good landscape of the school can also prevent you from asking admission officers or tour guides questions that are “ask to answer”.
2. Set up a college visit schedule
There are campus tours happening year-round. If a school you would like to visit is local or within a reasonable driving distance to you, consider visiting the campus on the weekend during the school year. Some schools ramp up availability of tours during the summer season. However, during the summer many schools do not offer tours on the weekend, so keep this in mind when planning your tour schedule.
Since you will most likely have more availability during the summer to take campus tours, you should choose which colleges to visit during the spring semester and then spend June to August visiting different campuses of interest. You can start early and plan out visits for every summer from after your freshman year to before your senior year if you have a clear idea of what schools you want to apply for. However, if you don’t begin early, we recommend you start collecting information about schools during junior year when you have a clear idea of what you are considering for a major and other requirements for schools.
Another great time to make campus visits is during your spring break when you have a week or two off of school in March or April. Since the time during your spring break is shorter than during the summer, consider visiting several schools you would like to see in one general area to save on travel time.
3. Explore various tour options
If you have more than 20 schools that you are applying to, it may not be possible to visit all schools in person, especially when some colleges are in different states. In that case, you should explore other tour options to save time and money. Various colleges such as Harvard University allow students to visit the campus from home. The virtual tours are led by students from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, along with hour-long online information sessions with an admission officer and a student. Students will have the chance to ask any questions, and the session has information about Harvard College.
4. Plan your trip
After you have decided where to go, you should make arrangements and plans regarding accommodations and the campus visit schedule. You may travel by public transportation, car, or plane. Depending on the means of transportation, you may have to plan early and have a structured list of activities. Another question is to think about what your goals are when visiting a school. Goals could be learning more about a certain program, for example fine arts, international relations, or engineering, the diversity on campus, club / activity opportunities, the area surrounding the campus, research opportunities, college honors programs, if any, etc. Think about and list your goals, then go to the next important tip for effective college visits.
5. Prepare your questions
After thinking about your goals for visiting the schools, you should come up with questions for various people you will meet on campus, such as tour guides, admissions officers or representatives, current students, other fellow visitors, faculty members, and professors. You should also bring a notebook or make sure your phone is at full battery if you want to record the campus tour or take notes about the campus or what is discussed during the in-person sessions.
During College Visits
6. Immerse with the local community
7. Try out food in the dining hall and cafes around the school
For some students, having access to a diversity of cuisine or a good quality meal is crucial. Therefore, you should always try to experience the food in the dining halls. In addition, you can always talk to or observe the students in the dining hall in order to see whether they will enjoy the environment here.
8. Talk to as many people as possible
Since you will only be at the college for maximum of 1-2 days, take advantage of this opportunity to talk to as many people as possible. It can be professors, current students, faculty members, or admission officers / representatives. Once you have the chance to talk to them, ask questions to learn more about their backgrounds, passion, interests, and their knowledge in their field of study.
When talking to a professor, you can also explore opportunities related to research or collaboration opportunities between professors and students. If you talk to current students, don’t forget to ask about extracurricular activities, involvement opportunities on campus, the workload, etc., because, once you attend college, you will be in the same shoes as them.