1. Make a list of colleges you’d like to visit by region. If you’re planning a trip to Boston, for example, make a list of the colleges that you’d like to visit while you’re there. Prioritize the list by “must visit,” “would like to visit,” and “nice to visit, but not necessary” so that you can realistically travel to all the campuses.
2. Visit the college’s admissions website and see what they offer to prospective students. Many colleges will provide either campus tours, admissions information sessions, class visits, student panels, meals in the dining hall with current students, or any combination of services. They want you to get to know the college better and, depending on the time of year, can provide a variety of services. You’ll want to go to the admissions website and select undergraduate admissions and/or prospective students. Then, search for anything that says “visit us” or “campus tours.” If the college’s website is difficult to navigate, open up a search engine and enter the name of the college followed by “campus tour.”
3. Schedule smart. Find out when the colleges are on school vacations prior to finalizing your itinerary. We encourage students to visit colleges when school is in session so you can get a better feel for the college culture. This is also a great way to meet students who might be able to give you a candid evaluation of their college experience. Also, because many campus tours are led by current students, they may not be around to give you a tour. Many colleges will provide an estimate of how long each admissions activity may take. Use that as a loose guide, but also allow yourself to spend time at the college without worrying about rushing to another campus. We typically recommend that students do no more than 2 visits a day (one usually in the morning and one in the afternoon).
4. Map out the colleges. Open up a Google map and create your own map which includes all of the colleges that you’d like to visit. That way, you can see where each campus is in relation to the other campuses. This can help you to plan more efficiently which schools it makes sense to visit on the same day or how to budget your transportation time to get to the colleges. Depending on the city, make sure to give yourself plenty of time for travel.
5. Note all of the date and times of all of the campus activities you’d like to participate in. You may have to do some coordinating because most schools only offer these services at certain times during the day and throughout the year. Once you have an idea of when all of the sessions are available, you can start to finalize your itinerary. Many colleges now allow you to sign up for visits directly on their website so that they know you’re coming. Remember, this may be your first interaction with the college so make sure that your communications are professional and show up to your appointment on time. Submit your requests and wait for an email confirmation.
6. Do your research. The college visit may be an opportunity to meet an admissions officer for the first time. Do your research online and have a question or two that you can ask the admissions officer ready for your visit. The best questions are ones that can’t be answered easily by online research. Think specifically about what attracts you to the college and what information would be helpful to you as you decide where to apply. If there is a particular class or professor you’d like to meet, ask if it would be possible to coordinate that meeting. If you’re curious about student life, ask if you can eat in the dining halls with a current student. Some schools even provide overnight experiences where you can stay with a student throughout their day and overnight. It is key to know what’s available to you, so be sure to research and ask the admissions office.
7. Take notes. As much as you think that you’ll remember everything from your college visit, chances are that they may all start to feel like the same college. During each visit, take notes on what you like/do not like/etc. and take time after each visit to reflect on whether you could see yourself on campus or not. Sound like busy work? I promise you, it’s not. Later on, you may find that you refer back to these notes so that you can write a more compelling supplemental essay that talks about the experience you had when visiting campus in detail, which in turn can show the admissions officer you’re quite serious about the college.
Veritas Prep is committed to helping students put together the best college applications possible. All of our consultants have prior admissions experience at the top colleges in the world and have evaluated students just like you. For more information, visit us at www.veritasprep.com/college. Complete our FREE college profile evaluation and talk to one of our expert evaluators today!
By Jennifer Sohn Lim, Assistant Director of Admissions at Veritas Prep.