You’ve heard about the college. You’ve read up about it online. Now the moment of truth: you’re going on an official campus visit!

Remember, you are the one who will invest your time, focus, and money into a college. A campus visit is an important way for you to get a true feel for that school. Don’t skip this step in your college process! High school juniors, I’m especially talking to you!Family on a campus tour.

Here are few nuggets of wisdom to help you prepare:

Create a list of colleges to visit

It’s a good idea to identify two or three colleges you are considering attending. Then, go visit them! Remember, there are a variety of public and private four-year colleges/universities, two-year community colleges, and trade/career schools across the country. Learn about the different college options at College Profiles (from EducationQuest) and BigFuture (from CollegeBoard).

College visits are immensely helpful as you make your final decision on where to attend. Start your visits during sophomore or junior year of high school. Note the differences at a public university, a private university, a community college, or a trade-specific school. The goal is to compare the colleges, to learn which one will be the right fit for you, before you commit to going to a specific school.

Prepare a list of questions & expectations before your visit

Think about what exactly you want to learn from your visit. Put some thought into this! Think about the things that truly interest you. What do you genuinely want to know about the college? Some important questions may include:

  • Do they offer the program of study that truly interests you?
  • What resources are there to help you network and seek employment for after graduation?
  • What are the residence halls like?
  • What kind of clubs/organizations are there?

To help you get started, find a list of questions HERE.

Meet with various offices and departments

To set up your visit, contact the admissions office at the college. They will schedule you for a date and time for your visit.  Let them know of your intended major so that they can ensure that you speak to representatives from that academic department. This will be a great opportunity to ask major-specific questions.

Depending on your concerns, ask to speak to representatives from financial aid, housing, and career services. The admissions office will do what they can to tailor your visit experience to your needs. Don’t hesitate to let them know what you’re wanting from your experience.

Ask questions!

When on your tour, or when meeting with representatives, don’t hold back. Ask the questions that are on your mind. It sounds obvious, but now is not the time to be bashful.

Walk around the campus union and community areas

Once the official tour is over, consider stopping by the campus union, library, or other community gathering areas, to get a feel for what that college is truly like. What is the social climate at that school? What kinds of study spaces are there for students? Food options?

Get to know the town outside of campus

Explore the greater community outside of campus. See what the major shopping areas and restaurants are like. Local coffee shops, fast-food spots, cultural centers. Make sure the community also appeals to you!

Happy searching!