Juniors on the initial college search and seniors making final decisions are hitting the road for college visits.  College visits cost time and money, so putting some time into planning your visit is key to making the most of a 3-day weekend like Presidents’ Day or spring break for college visits.

Do Your Homework

Likely, you are limited on the number of schools you can visit, so take the time to make wise choices of where you’ll go. Next, thoroughly research the school before you go.  Using data on College Navigator will give you important information such as retention and graduation rates along with average net price paid to attend and degrees offered. You also don’t want to ask a question on your visit that could have been easily answered on the school site. See what students are saying about the school on College Confidential.  Keep digging for information on the school.

Schedule a Tour and More

Often, tours and class room visits must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance of your visit.  Call the admissions office to book not only your tour, but also check into the availability of sitting in on a class or two related to major(s) of interest.  If you can grab some time with a professor before or after class, get a feel for him, the department and whether it’s a good 4-year fit for you.

When you are on the tour, ask questions of your tour guide and other students you meet along the way. Find out what brought them to the school initially and their likes and disappointments along their journey.

Get off the Beaten Path

When your tour concludes, break away from the group to see more of the campus such as the older buildings, not just the new shiny ones they show you on the tour. Check out the library. You’re a workout fanatic? Head on over to the workout facility to see what it has to offer on a blustery day when the last thing you want to do is go for an outdoor run.

Eat and Sleep

Whether you spend half or the recommended full day on your visit, be sure to eat on campus. The quality of the food could be the tie breaker between school A and B on April 30th of your senior year. Schools will often allow students, particularly seniors, to spend the night on campus giving you a deeper look at what this college holds for you.

Reflect

Shortly after your visit concludes, gather your thoughts and impressions about the school. You will be surprised how quickly your memories will fade after the visit, especially after hitting a few more campuses. Journal or create a spreadsheet to rank the school. A site like Welcome to College can be helpful in rating and tracking the schools you visit.

Make the most of your college visits so you are equipped to make the best decisions in the future!