College visits are a great way to get an up close look at the different types of schools. If your schedule and budget permit, plan a road trip. Visiting during junior year will allow you to see campuses when the students are active and engaged instead of waiting until summer when campuses are quieter. You’ll also eliminate stress in senior year if you start to narrow down your choices now. If you’re not able to travel too far, you can visit a variety of schools close to home. You can also take online tours for schools you can’t get to. Your guidance counselor can help you to make an initial list of schools to visit.
Ask your parents whether they want to turn your college road trip into a family vacation. Your younger siblings will love being included and can also benefit from the experience. Look at a calendar and choose dates. How far will you travel? Do you plan to stay overnight? If so, you’ll need to book a hotel or arrange to stay with a student on campus. Check the school website for travel resources including information on local hotels and transportation options. If you don’t know a student who can be your host, many schools will make arrangements for you— contact the admissions office for details.
Look through the admissions sections of school websites for info session and campus tour schedules— don’t miss the opportunity to get a full look at all each school has to offer. Check if reservations are required and if so, book online or by calling the admissions office. Once you arrive at admissions, don’t forget to sign in. Some schools do take note of an applicant’s demonstrated interest. If you live within a reasonable distance, your visit will speak to your desire to attend.
Think in advance about what you’d like to learn. This is the time to get information about programs that interest you, details about housing and financial aid. Be prepared to take notes to help you remember the details. At the info session, ask questions that aren’t easily answered by looking through the school’s website— ask school-specific questions. On student-led tours, ask your guides what they like, and dislike, about the school.
Some schools offer special programs where you can arrange to have lunch with a current student. Compare schedules for schools which are near one another— it’s possible to visit more than one school in a day. What would you like to see while on campus? Think about attending a game, a theater production or concert. Remember to buy tickets ahead of time. If you’d like to sit in on a class, ask the admissions office about arrangements. Be sure to leave time to check out the surrounding neighborhood.
Arrange to sit in on a class, eat at the cafeteria and spend time at the student center. Notice what students are doing— are they studying while eating or chatting and laughing?Jot down your impressions— by the time you arrive back home it’ll be difficult to remember which school had the good food and where you noticed the students seemed the happiest.