Tips for Successful College Visits

Visiting colleges is FUN!

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College visits are the BEST way for students to imagine a future on the campus and for parents to be jealous because their dining hall did not offer sushi!

Here are our suggestions for a successful college visit:


This may seem like a no-brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times a student tells me they went to a campus without an appointment, expecting to see the campus.  Should you do this, you will only get so far- it is doubtful you can see a dorm room or a lecture hall without being accompanied by a school tour guide.  Also, you could miss important highlights if on your own.

To sign up, go to school’s website.  Look for a “visit” or “prospective students” or “admissions” link, and register for an information session and tour.  You will pick the day and time of your visit and let them know how many people are coming with you.  On that note….


No child is too young to visit a college so bring along the younger siblings.  A mentor of mine brought her kids on visits when they were in kindergarten.  They wound up at Smith and Williams, so momma did something right!

With the family in tow, encourage everyone to keep opinions to themselves, especially parents.  Although dad might think a 300 person lecture hall is scary or mom might love the idea of cheering for the football team on the weekend, this is about what the student wants.  Even family members can have very different preferences when it comes to academic needs and student life.


Summer vacation might seem like a good time for visits but when school is not in session, you may not get an accurate picture of what the school is like.

Take advantage of the times of year when high school is closed but college is still in session:

– Fall break

– Professional Development days like the Teachers’ Convention in NJ

– Presidents’ Weekend

– Spring Break

– Religious holidays

If you must go on a school day, high schools typically allot for a certain number of excused absences for college visits.  Know your school’s policy before you go.


Either before or after the structured tour, I like to do some exploring on my own.  Depending on the school, that might include sitting on a bench in the quad and observing student life, taking a stroll downtown, having lunch at a local restaurant, or visiting the nearby mall.


Think about how you may want to spend your time while not in the classroom and be prepared to ask about it.

Make a list of what is important to you:  Does the athlete in you want to check out the fitness center?  Does the bookworm want to see the library?  Does the party animal want to know about social events? Your tour guide will likely be a current college student and the perfect person to give you an unfiltered answer to your questions.


Visits are not interviews and you do not have to impress anyone.  They are there to impress YOU!  You may be spending 4 years of your life at this place, enjoy yourself!

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