In-Person Campus Visits

A fancy website or glossy brochure can be helpful, but an in-person or virtual visit is the best way to experience a school firsthand. Walk around the campus, sit in on a class, and tour the dorms to get the real deal. Follow these steps to help you maximize your visits:

  1. Schedule your visit: Register online or call ahead. Campuses offer open houses, information sessions, virtual visits, and tours. Let the school know you’re coming. Find out if it’s possible to schedule an overnight visit. And make sure to leave enough time to walk around on your own after the formal tour. Tip: Ask your high school counselor if absences due to campus visits can be excused.
  2. Make the most of your visit: Check with the admissions office about all the opportunities to learn about the school. Don’t be shy – take any offers to have lunch with current students or sit in on a class.
  3. Collect materials: Grab admissions materials, financial aid brochures and other helpful information. Pick up student newspapers, flyers, and activity calendars to get a sense of what campus life is really like.
  4. Test out student life: Check out a dorm, whether or not you plan to live on campus. If possible, spend the night in a dorm (you can set this up with the admissions office). Have breakfast or lunch in a dining hall, both to get another view into student life and to make sure you like the food!
  5. Take notes: Jot down a few notes to capture your impression of the campus right after the tour. Record the names of the staff you interacted with, and send them thank you notes or e-mails. After a few visits, the details tend to blend together, so notes can be very helpful.

Virtual Campus Tours

Virtual campus tours can be a great tool in your search. They’ll give you a sneak peek and help you decide whether to visit in-person if you’re not sure. And they can allow you to “see” a campus you’re not able to visit.

National Tours

Websites like Campus Tours and Appily provide access to thousands of campuses nationwide. This is a great way to investigate out-of-state schools and decide whether it’s worth traveling for an in-person visit.

Questions to Ask Admissions Counselors

Campus visits are an ideal time to connect with admissions counselors and ask questions. Make your list in advance, and write down the answers. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What percentage of students receive grants and scholarships?
  • What is the average class size during the first year? What is the largest class?
  • Are first-year students guaranteed housing?
  • What are your most popular majors or programs?
  • What do students like to do for fun?
  • If I decide to take a gap year, am I able to keep any financial aid offered for the following year?
  • What’s your favorite campus tradition?

Questions to Ask Current Students

Campus visits might be your only chance to talk to current students. Take advantage! If the admissions office offers a meeting, lunch, or panel session with current students, take them up on it. And don’t be afraid to approach a friendly-looking student to ask a question or two. Try asking questions like:

  • What makes this school the right fit for you and other students?
  • What classes are you taking right now? How much time do you spend on homework?
  • What do you feel are the most popular campus activities? Classes?
  • How accessible are professors out of class? Are tutors available for extra help?
  • What is transportation like?
  • What do you do for fun on weeknights and weekends?

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