Admission offices are open all year, but visiting when classes are in session is best. If you visit in the summer, you can certainly learn about admission and get a general tour of the campus, but it might be hard to get a good sense of the atmosphere of the college.
The best time to visit? Spring break of your junior year can be ideal. Even if you are not certain where you might eventually apply, if you can visit one large, one medium size, and one small school, you will be better prepared to make final decisions about where to apply.
Once you have narrowed your list in the fall of your senior year, you may want to make return overnight visits to schools to which you will be applying. On these visits, plan to go to classes and interact with students. (Some colleges even offer spring programs for juniors and fall programs for seniors. Check online or contact the admission office.)
How to Plan a Visit
A good campus visit takes two to four hours — enough time to get a sense of the surrounding town or area. Don’t try to visit more than two schools in one day.
Call the admission office at least two weeks ahead of time to schedule your visit. Admission offices have set times for tours and information sessions.
Think of all the things you want to do when you visit and ask the admission office for help planning your visit. Do you want to take a tour? Attend a class? Meet with a professor? Eat a meal on campus? Talk with a coach or advisor?
Research each college before you visit so you’ll have specific questions to ask.
Contact any students you know at the school before you visit to learn more about the college.
During Your Visit
- Focus on people, places, and programs during your visit.
- Talk to as many people as you can: students, dining hall workers, tour guides, and faculty.
- Look at the student newspaper and check out campus bulletin boards.
- Wander through the quad or student center and observe how students interact with each other.
- Keep track of the names of people you talk with, especially in the admission office.
- Go to the admission session and take the official tour.
- If you are meeting or interviewing with an admission staff member, be on time, be yourself, ask good questions, and make to mention anything about your background or achievements that you want the admission office to know.
After the Visit
- Fill out the College Comparison Worksheet.
- Send a thank you note to any admission representatives you met.
- Look ahead to fall of your senior year to plan a follow-up, overnight visit.
Every college visit should have at least two dimensions: formal and informal.