10 Things to Do on Your Campus Visit
How you can make the most of your college visits.
February 25, 2014
No college search would be complete without a campus visit to the college, university and community college options in your area. A campus visit helps you find college environments that best suit your interests and career goals.
Of course you should also have fun on your college visits, but keep in mind that you are there to get as much information as possible and make important decisions about your future. Here are ten things to do on your campus visit to make sure you get a good feel for each college:
Create a list of questions for admissions officers, financial aid representatives, faculty and students, and bring it with you to each school.
1. Take a campus tour
Campus tours are a great place to start your campus visit. You’ll learn about the campus landmarks, history of the school and a little bit about the campus lifestyle. You’ll also meet other prospective students, so you can compare notes about that school and other colleges and universities you’re visiting.
2. Sit in on a class
Attending a class in your study area of interest lets you get a feel for class size, structure and learning style. For a better idea of the school's coursework and teaching philosophies, consider sitting in on two or three classes, and talk to professors after class.
3. Read a student newspaper
College newspapers help you gauge the issues that students on campus care about and what social and academic events occur during the school year. You’ll find college newspapers in common areas such as cafeterias and building entry halls.
4. Make a list of questions
Create a list of questions for admissions officers, financial aid representatives, faculty and students, and bring it with you to each school. Thinking through your questions before you visit colleges and universities will make your college search easier. For ideas, see Campus Explorer's 20 Questions to Ask a College.
5. Talk to students
Ask current students of the university about the student culture – are there Greek fraternities and sororities? If so, how much do they dominate the school’s social life? Are there clubs and activities you can join? How big a party school is it? Don’t be too swayed by what individual students like or dislike about the social scene; just get the facts and then determine what works best for you.
6. Live the student lifestyle
If possible, stay overnight in the dorms, walk through the library and eat in the school cafeteria. This gives you a chance to act like a student for a day and see if you like it.
7. Go to a game or campus party
Attending a college game or party gives you additional firsthand insight into campus culture. Strict parents? Get their okay before you head off to that party.
8. Check book prices at the bookstore
Look at course offerings and textbook pricing. Be sure to check prices on books that may be required for your intended program so you know how much to budget for books if you attend that college.
9. Take a tour of the surrounding town
Not all your time in college will be spent in the classroom. Scope out the surrounding town to see what types of restaurants, clubs, stores and other establishments exist.
10. Talk to a financial advisor
A financial advisor can help you find out about potential scholarships and grants you may be eligible for.
College Campus Visit Tips & Tactics
- Make sure you give yourself enough time at each school to really get a sense of the campus and academic offerings.
- Try to visit schools when classes are in session to get a better idea of academic and student life.
- Get business cards from admissions officers, financial aid reps and professors you meet. Write down the contact information for students who gave you helpful information. This allows you to send thank-you notes to people who’ve helped you out, and to ask any follow-up questions you have.
- Active in sports or high school organizations? Talk to college coaches or the leaders of the groups you think you’ll want to participate in.