How to get the most out of your college visit experience

Today’s guest post is from April Elizabeth Bell, Associate Director, Counselor Advocacy – The College Board. The College Board has launched their new site, Big Future, making it easier for students and families to successfully navigate the complex process of finding, affording and enrolling in a college that’s a good fit for them. Big Future has a special section dedicated to campus visits, and today’s guest post discusses the importance of those visits and the tools The College Board provides to help.


Why Visit?

Choosing which college to attend can be a life-changing decision. Take the time to pursue a campus visit and ensure that you are making the best decision for you. By picking the college that will best fit your needs, you will position yourself to excel in your academic career. Take a look at these students’ testimonials of how college visits shaped their decision about what school to attend.

Planning Ahead

Be proactive and remember to use your resources. Your school counselors can help you plan your college visit and answer any preliminary questions. Also, all colleges have an admissions office that can help you plan your trip, whether you want an official campus tour or to create your own informal visit. You can even check out these 10 Ways to Learn About Colleges Online to see how to effectively research various colleges online. Utilizing these resources beforehand will help prepare you with the information necessary to make the most of your college visit. Watch the video below to hear Jonathan talk about how he maximized his college visit by creating his own campus tour.

It’s important to go on a college visit, even if it’s not the school you want to attend. Tours give you the opportunity to learn more about the common places on a college campus and what resources are available, regardless of which school you attend. Visit the Location Matters to Me link to search for a college near you.

Determine When to Visit

The success of a college visit may vary depending on the time of year, even the time of day, can have a large impact. It is common for most students to wait until spring of their junior year in high school or early autumn of their senior year for their visits. Check the school’s academic calendar to be aware of any potential dates the school is closed. The beginning steps to planning a successful visit also include planning ahead and deciding what’s most important to you during your college visit. Opportunities available for touring students include informational sessions and dorm tours, and it’s even possible to sit in on class lectures. The timing of your campus visit may vary from other students if you’re considering various opportunities before your first year, including participation in summer programs, taking summer classes, or planning to participate in collegiate athletics. Click the link for more tips on When to Visit college campuses.

Create a Checklist

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the things to do, information to gather, and people to talk to while on a college visit. Create Checklist and be sure to prioritize the items that are most important to you. Informational sessions are important, but exploring the college to get a better feel for its campus environment is also critical. Be sure to think about some of the worries you may have about going to college and write them down. Then, look for opportunities to speak with students or staff who may have shared your same concerns before beginning college. They can help you understand how their college meets your specific needs. Make note of any buildings you want to see. Student unions, recreational facilities, dorms and libraries are some of the most common buildings on college campuses, which are important to consider when making your college decision. This Campus Visit Checklist will give you more ideas for your college visits.


Planning for college should be an enjoyable experience and you don’t have to do it alone.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the contact information of any students or staff you speak with. That way if you have any additional questions, you will already have a personal contact at the school. If you plan your own informal visit, stop by the admissions office to get connected with a school representative so they too can help.

Still confused on what to do and where to go to plan your college visit? Take a look at the 6 Steps to Get the Most Out of a Campus Visit. For more information about planning campus visits, admissions, financial aid and college life, check out


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