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Getting the Most Out of a Campus Visit

If you're scheduling some visits this year to see colleges and universities you may be interested in attending up close, be sure to plan your visit so you can get the most out of your time on campus. We recommend a few tips that can help you take the best advantage of your college or university visit.


Make Arrangements in Advance for Your Campus Visit

Be sure to plan your visits to colleges and universities you are interested in several months in advance to make arrangements for your time there. Contact the admissions office to let them know that you will be coming for a visit. They should be able to provide you with useful campus information, maps, a place on a campus tour, access to faculty and students in the department you are interested in (so you can ask questions about possible majors), and more.


Request an Interview With an Admissions Officer

When you contact the admissions office, be sure to also request an interview with an admissions officer, especially if you are almost certain that you will apply to the school. The interview may help you present yourself in a way that your written college application cannot get across, and may be to your advantage if the college has a particularly competitive admissions policy.

Get a Campus Tour, but....

Be sure to arrange for a campus tour, and start keeping a list of your questions about the school in the months prior to your visit. When you take the tour, be sure to ask as many questions as you can about campus facilities, dorms, classrooms, campus life, and student activities. The campus tour can be a great way to get the highlights of the schools you are interested in, but also...

... Be Sure to Venture Off the Campus Tour

It's important to take in as much information on your campus tour as possible, but also be sure to venture off the tour to explore more remote areas of the campus that might not be included on the tour (you may find yourself in some best-kept secret hangouts of the student body where you can engage current students in conversation about what life is really like on campus). Taking your own walks around campus will give you an opportunity to see what areas of the campus are naturally interesting to you, and can give you a broader perspective on the full size of the campus, off the main paths. Be sure also to explore the surrounding community off campus. Inevitably, many students find that they need to get off campus every once in awhile for a change of scenery of to experience something new. If the school you are interested in is part of a thriving community or city, get a feel for that area to see if it is somewhere you would enjoy spending time. And, if there is very little to do outside of the campus community within a reasonable distance, give serious consideration to whether or not this will be OK for you after you've been on campus for a few months. This is also important given that many students find jobs in the same geographic region as their college or university upon graduation, so you may want to be sure that you'd enjoy living there beyond your undergraduate years, if you think you might find a job in the area.

Eat in the Dining Hall

If food is important to you (and of course it is!) be sure to get a feel for the meal plan options and the fare on offer at the colleges and universities you are interested in. Have a meal in the main dining hall and/or a residence hall (if dining options are available there) and ask students about their satisfaction with the food options available. Try to get a feel for the variety of cuisine offered as well as nutrition considerations and costs.


Visit More Than One Dorm

If possible, request to view more than one dormitory or residence hall while you are visiting the campus. This will help you get a feel for the range of living options available, as many colleges and universities have newer dorms that feature modern amenities as well as older dorms that may be lacking updates. You'll want to be sure you would be comfortable living in any residence hall you may be assigned, as you may not have a choice of living situations for your freshman year. (Also, be sure to ask how your roommate will be chosen and your room assigned -- if it's by you or through a random lottery system -- if this is important for you.)


Check Out the Student Health Facilities

One facility likely not on your official tour that many students tend to overlook on their campus visit is the student health facility. If you get sick while you are at school, this facility will likely be your first point of care (unless you have an emergency situation, in which case you would likely be taken to the nearest hospital emergency room). So, it's important to make sure that the school you are considering has a modern and competent facility with a professional staff.

Do you have other tips for getting the most out of your campus visit? Leave a comment below to add to this conversation.

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