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Making the Most of College Visits: Tips for Campus Tours and Information Sessions

Rising high school juniors and seniors typically visit colleges in the spring or summer 

months.  College visits are the best way to test drive a college campus and the programs offered.  You will have the opportunity to reflect on your experience and make informed decisions about which colleges to apply to. Before deciding what colleges to visit, students and families will first need to have a preliminary college list or rough idea of the type of college they would like to attend. Once a list has been decided upon, you can begin planning your trip by taking the following steps:

  • On each college website, go to the Admissions page, click on the “Campus Visits” page and register for campus tours and information sessions. College visits have limited space, so it’s important to sign up early. If you have a desired day and time in mind, you should reserve your spot before it fills up and then make your travel plans accordingly.If you are unable to visit the college in person, you can can opt to attend a virtual information session instead.

  • Once you know which schools you want to visit, start planning your schedule. Be realistic about how much you can see and do in one day. Typically if some colleges on your list are in close proximity with one another, you may be able to fit in two visits per day. Allow enough time for each campus tour, meeting with admissions officers, and exploring the surrounding area.

  • If you don't have enough time to visit two colleges in one day, consider attending the information session plus tour for one school and the information session for another school. This will ensure you at least sign in for the information session and listen to the presentation by admissions. You can then consider a self-guided tour. Lots of colleges offer a guides for self-guided tours.

During the visit:

  • Be prepared: Wear comfortable shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, and a notebook to take notes. Taking notes will help you to remember important information or unique characteristics. After visiting multiple schools, information can easily become a blurry and difficult to remember if not noted. Use your phone camera to capture memories of your trip.

  • Ask questions:  Before the information session, research the college and program(s) you're interested in. This will help you think of questions beforehand and understand the context of the information presented. Don't be shy to ask the admissions officers or your tour guide questions. This is your chance to learn as much as you can about the college and see if it's a good fit for you.

  • Be present: Be engaged in the tours and meetings, and take advantage of all the opportunities to learn about the college. Put away your phone and focus on the experience.

  • Explore the campus: Don't just stick to the tour route. Take some time to explore the campus on your own and get a feel for the atmosphere. Visit the library, the dining hall, and the student center.

  • Read the bulletin boards: Libraries and student centers are spaces that often have bulletin boards filled with fliers and information about events and happenings on the campus. It's a great way to get a glimpse of campus life. Take some pictures of these so you can look through them later..something interesting might catch your eye!

Talk to current students: 

  • Current students can give you the inside scoop on what it's really like to attend the college. Ask them about their academics, social life, and overall experience. Accept any cards or contact information that may be offered to you, so you have a direct contact to help answer any questions you may think of later.

Links with additional tips to help you plan your college visits:

  • College Visit Apps:

    • Campus VisiTOUR: This app offers self-guided, interactive tours of various college campuses, providing information points and multimedia content along the way.

    • Ubound: This app focuses on college visits, allowing you to plan trips, track visit details, set reminders, and store notes - all in one place.

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