Making the most of your college tour

Summer is a great time to visit college campuses with your family, since you can plan a travel route and visit several colleges during a short period of time.

While you can get a wealth of information from its website, there is no substitute for experiencing a college in person. After all, you'll be spending the next four years at the college you choose, so it makes sense to visit different campuses so you can find out what you want in your college.

Tips for your campus visit

Plan an official tour

Campus tours are usually scheduled through the college admissions office. Some require or prefer a reservation; others allow walk-ins. Check with the college before making the trip.

Unlike a casual, on-your-own visit, an official visit and tour enables you to talk with admissions and financial aid staff, and perhaps even some professors, as well as current students. You'll explore lecture halls and other classrooms, labs and other research facilities, recreational venues, and residence halls.

Some colleges may even look more favorably at the application of a student who makes the effort to visit the campus.

Research before you go

Review the college's website so you have a good overview. Find out the programs offered, average class size, student population, and other basic information. Make notes about things you are unsure of or want to know more about. Bring your notes and a list of questions with you.

Ask your questions!

The college admissions staff is eager to respond, but be sure to also ask questions of your student tour guide to get the student point-of-view. Some things you might ask:

  • What career or employment placement services are available?
  • How are roommates paired?
  • Is housing guaranteed for four years?
  • Do all buildings have wireless access?
  • What clubs and special interest groups are available?

Walk around campus on your own

After the tour, give yourself a few moments to take in the college atmosphere. Browse the college bookstore, library, and student union. Do you think you would you feel comfortable here? Can you imagine yourself as a student at this college?

Grab a bite

Check out the food offered at the cafeteria or other food venues. Talk with staff. If you have certain dietary requirements, ask about how they can be met.

Keep track

Maintain a folder for each college, including any publications you pick up, contact information you collect from faculty and administration members as well as your student tour guide, and notes about your visit and your impressions.

These tips will help you get the most out of your college visits and make a well-informed decision about which college to choose.