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Planning a Campus Visit

Check your high school’s policy on taking time off for college visits.  You’ll want to visit colleges while school is in session, but make sure to work within your high school’s parameters.

Check your research for each college to find out which schools require an interview and set those up first. Try to schedule the interview for the school you most want to get into after you  have had a few other interviews. That way you’ll be more practiced and comfortable. 

Get directions to each school and go over your travel arrangements in advance. If you are flying to visit a school, have your parents or guardian rent a car ahead of time and figure out the driving time from the airport to the school. Don’t schedule any interviews too close to your expected arrival time in case you get delayed. 

Prepare a list of specific questions you have for each school. This will impress interviewers and keep your thoughts organized. 

Get a notebook to jot down notes. You don’t want to forget the different information from each school. After a while, your thoughts will blend together, and you’ll be grateful for your notes. 

What to Do During Your Campus Visit (Time Permitting)

Take a Campus Tour and Check Out the School Facilities.  Are the facilities up-to-date and operating? Is the campus safe? Is the library good for studying and research? Is there a school health facility? How old are the dorm rooms? How big or small are they? What types of furniture are provided? What’s the cafeteria like?

Sit In on a Class of a Subject That Interests You.  How big is it? How often do students discuss ideas in class? How often do students make class presentations? Is there a lot of student/teacher interaction? What kind of homework is assigned? Is there a teaching assistant for each class or only for some?

Talk to a Professor in Your Field of Interest or Major.  Does he or she seem knowledgeable? Do students receive prompt feedback on performance? Do faculty members have research grants and other work for students to participate in? Do students have opportunities to tutor other students?

Talk With Current Students.  Why did they choose the college? What do they love about it? What do they hate about it? What do they do on weekends? What do they think of the teachers? What internships, jobs, etc. have they been exposed to during their time?

Dine In a Cafeteria.  What are surrounding students like? Are they diverse? Is the food good? Is there a meal plan available? Are there multiple cafeterias or options for food?

Talk With an Admissions Advisor.  What are the admission requirements? Is there an admission fee? How do you apply and what forms do you fill out? When are the important deadlines? Can you apply online?

Talk With a Financial-Aid Counselor.  How much does it cost to attend the college?  What types of payment plans are available? What financial-aid options are available?  How is financial aid paid out? Are there special school scholarships available? How do you apply?

Spend a Night in a Dorm.  Is it nice? Is it quiet? Is it conveniently located on campus? What’s on the dorm bulletin boards? Do they tell you anything about student life? Is there a laundry facility on every floor? How new are the facilities? How many students (on average) use each facility? Is there a computer lab? Is there an attached cafeteria?

Talk to the Coach of a Sport You Are Interested in Participating in.  What types of athletic programs does the school offer?  What intercollegiate and intramural teams are represented on campus? Are athletic teams important to the school? Do a lot of students attend events? Is there strong school spirit?

Read the Student Newspaper.  What is the vibe you get from it? What kinds of things are written about? What clubs and organizations are mentioned? Are there any student employment opportunities listed?

Walk or Drive Around the Community Surrounding the Campus.   Is the town or city safe? Are there restaurants? Theaters? Museums? Job opportunities? Do the locals seems pleasant?

What to Do Immediately Following Your Campus Visit

Send a Thank-You to Your Interviewer.   You want to start keeping business cards and names of people you meet for future contacts. To help stay organized, keep them in the same place you keep your notes for each school.

Go Over Your Notes.  Review the information you gathered. Highlight the things that stood out for you. They will most likely have a strong impact on which school you end up choosing.