students at a college visit

Visiting a college campus can help you decide if a school (and location) is the right fit for you. 

College visits are a chance to see the campus environment and surrounding town, learn about programs offered, and ask questions of admissions staff, faculty and current students attending.

The best time to visit campus is when school is in session so you can get an accurate sense of what life might be like there. 

Plan ahead for what you want to see and do! Most visits need to be scheduled 1-3 weeks ahead of time through the admissions page of the school’s web site. Email or call the admissions office if you have specific or unusual visitation needs, requests, or questions.

Before you visit a college consider if the following are a good match:

  • Admissions match: Consider your GPA & test information. 
  • Educational match:  Do the programs & majors fit your needs?
  • Geographical match: Too close or too far? Do you like the campus and community?
  • Social match: What are you going to do when you’re not in class? Living on campus versus off campus?
  • Financial match: In-state vs out-of-state tuition, public vs private, aid (merit + need), housing, travel, debt, four-year graduation rate

During the college visit:

  • Take a campus tour. Usually student-led, this is a great chance to ask questions of a current student. Tours of dorms/athletic facilities/specific departments may be included in the general tour or could be provided separately. Colleges typically offer a self-guided tour if timing of the general tour doesn’t work for your family. Remember to also ask a couple of questions of students around campus who are not necessarily your guide (just walking around or working a student job at a desk somewhere on campus, etc.) 
  • Attend an information session – typically offered right before or after campus tours, led by admissions staff.
  • Schedule an individual interview with admissions – sometimes offered or required (especially at smaller schools). Some schools may offer an alumni interview, either in person or virtual, as a substitute.
  • Sit in on a class – This can sometimes be arranged by admissions if requested ahead of time. If you have time, sit in on a freshman class (typically a larger lecture) and an upper-level class (typically a smaller seminar).
  • Meet with a professor, advisor, coach, or director – Set up a time to meet with someone in a department, athletic field, or performance area of your primary interest area. This should be set up ahead of time directly through the department.
  • Stay overnight in a dorm – You can get an idea of what dorm life would be like by staying overnight. Contact the admissions office to see if they might offer to arrange a stay. Often students will informally contact friends to arrange overnights and classroom visits.
  • While on campus, other things you may want to look into:
    • Residential and dining options (eat a meal on campus – where the students eat!)
    • Financial Aid Office – ask about need-based aid and academic/merit scholarships
    • Career Services (internship, grad school, job placement info)
    • Athletic facilities (athletes and non-athletes), student union, library, and bookstore
    • Technology and computing info (labs, tech support, requirements)
    • Counseling Center, Health Center, and academic assistance (tutoring, writing lab, disability services)
    • Study Abroad and the International Programs Office