Everything You Need to Know Before Your First College Visit

Visiting colleges is a great way to get a feel for what college is like, and help you decide if a particular college is the right fit for you.  

We’ve developed this guide to help you make the most of your college visits:  

Arrange Your Visit 

All colleges and universities have admission offices that can help you plan your visit. Your school may even organize group visits to campuses nearby. To get some tours on your schedule:  

  • Visit the websites of colleges you are interested in to see if they publish a calendar of their scheduled group tours. If you can’t find the calendar, you can always contact the admission office by email or phone to schedule a visit.  
  • Check with your school counselor to see if there are any organized campus tours you can take part in.  

If visiting a campus in-person isn’t an option, virtual visits and tours have become popular. Check in with the admission offices at colleges you are interested in to see if they offer visit events or tours for future students, like you. The good news is that these virtual resources can give you a sense of life on-campus through webinars, virtual panels, and video presentations.  

What to Expect During Your Visit 

Campus tours can range from a quick hour-long tour, webinar, or overnight immersive experience. Most in-person campus visits include the following:  

  • Information Sessions: These are typically led by admission representatives and cover the admission process of the specific college prior to the actual campus tour.  
  • Campus Tours: These are typically led by current students and showcase the highlight the main features of campus.  

At many colleges, you can also arrange the following to enhance your visit experience:  

  • Classroom visits 
  • Special information sessions hosted by different academic areas 
  • Meet with a financial aid officer 
  • Meet with your admission counselor 
  • Eat in the dining hall 
  • Spend a night in a dorm 

Whether you are visiting a campus in-person or participating in a virtual event, this is a great time to ask questions and interact with college staff and students. Stuck on what questions to ask? Here are some suggestions:  

  • What is your biggest piece of advice for a new student at XYZ University? 
  • Do all first-year students live on-campus? If so, are students guaranteed housing? 
  • What do most students do during the summer? 
  • What kind of hands-on experiences are built into my major? 
  • Are study abroad programs offered? 
  • What kind of on-campus jobs are available? Where do students work near campus? 
  • Is there tutoring I can access? 
  • Most popular majors/minors? 
  • What kind of services does the career center offer? 
  • Who will my advisor be? 
  • What kind of campus safety resources exist? 
  • What is there do on the weekends? Do a lot of students stay on campus on the weekend? 
  • Best tradition on campus? 
  • What do you wish you knew about the school before you came as a freshman?  

After Your Visit 

Take notes 

Right after your college visits, jot down some first impressions and thoughts about the school. This is especially useful if you’re using the same trip to visit multiple schools. You may find that a lot of the colleges blend after a few tours. Having notes to review later will be useful when it comes time to compare your options.  

Notice the weather 

If the weather is not ideal during your visit, think about how it might impact your opinion of that campus. You want to make sure you choose a college that is ideal for you, so don’t rule out a school too quickly if the weather left you with a bad impression. 

Collect contact information 

When learning about a school, it’s easier to reach out to people you’ve already met. That way, you can continue a conversation and show demonstrated interest. When on your campus tour, ask for your guide’s name and email. You may also want to ask for the card of your admissions counselor, so you can have their contact information as well.