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How to Plan for a College Visit

College tours and weekend visits can help you evaluate some of the factors you can't assessed by reading school brochures and websites. Make the most of them by planning ahead so you know what to look for once you’re there.

Before You Go

  • Look into scheduling a visit during a preview weekend, when the college or university will have planned activities for prospective students, and you may even be able to stay on campus with current students. Consider a virtual tour if visiting isn’t possible.
  • Think about the things you want in an ideal college, make a list to take along with you so you’ll remember to look for these things (location, living options, student activities, degree programs offered, community amenities, costs, etc.).
  • If you’re not planning to visit during a planned preview event, schedule an appointment with an admissions officer to get all of your questions answered by an authoritative source.
  • Consider contacting the department where you might want to study and find out if you can sit in on a class while you are visiting.
  • Schedule a campus tour.
  • Look at the campus events calendar online to see what extracurricular or athletic events are happening while you’re visiting, and plan to attend one you think you might enjoy.
  • Plan to spend some time off-campus, learning about the community. Visit shops and restaurants, and attend a community event, if possible. You’re visiting the place you may end up living for the next 4-5 years, so you’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit!

Once You Arrive – Things to Look For

  • Visit the financial aid office to pick up any forms you might need, and to ask questions you might have about assistance.
  • Grab the student newspaper to learn about current events on campus and to find out more about the campus culture.
  • Think about your plans to get around campus and the community: is there adequate transportation and/or parking for your lifestyle?
  • Check out campus bulletin boards and check out what students are doing during your visit to see if the activities match your interests.
  • Visit all of the campus housing options to see which would be the best fit for you. Stay overnight at one, if possible.
  • Visit the places where students hang out on campus: libraries, student union building, and other gathering places where you can get a feel for the campus vibe.
  • Talk to students and find out what they like about the school, and if there are any shortcomings you might want to consider. Ask why they chose to attend, what kinds of things there are to do on the weekends, and any other questions that might help you make a decision.
  • Talk to professors to see what they think about the opportunities you might be able to take advantage of considering the course of study you plan to pursue. What’s the department like, how much access would you have to help from faculty, are there extracurricular clubs or honor societies you could join related to your major, are there opportunities to study abroad?
  • Check out the health and wellness facilities to see what kinds of amenities are available.

Choosing a College

You've got lots of options and probably many questions about what's out there and how to pick the program and school that's right for you. These resources can help.

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