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How to Make the Most of your Spring College Visits

One of the most exciting parts of applying to colleges is visiting those colleges that you’d really love to attend. While it can be tricky to visit colleges that are far away, there are often plenty of great in-state options to check out and make a day trip to. No matter which college you are visiting, there are some secrets to ensuring you make the most out of the visit.


Our two top tips: Plan ahead, and be confident!


Many colleges offer guided tours, but you’ll need to know what time they start and where they meet before you step foot on campus so you can plan your day accordingly. Usually, your college name + “college tour” or “visit” typed into google will pull up all the information you need to figure out what tour works for you. Also pay attention to what the tours cover, as some will be a little more “touristy” (Eg. Show the outside of buildings) while others are more suited to prospective students.


You may also be able to attend a class during your visit, but will only know that you can do this if you plan ahead and arrange your schedule to do so. Think about which classes will be closest to what you’ll actually take if you end up attending this college, and start there. Not all classes will be open to attend, so make sure you double check! Call up the college information desk and they will be able to guide you. If you do get to attend a class, make sure you take lots of notes – treat it like you’re a student in the class!


Write a list of all the questions you have and things you want to know. Things like ‘is there a cheap or free gym on campus for students’? ‘Where do students do their laundry’ (yes, you will have to do your own!). ‘How close is campus to the airport’ (if you’re going out-of-state) and ‘what is transport like to get there’? ‘Is there parking on campus if I need it’? Spend some time before you visit writing these all down in your phone or notebook. Even if you don’t get a chance to ask them all, having some questions to refer to will help on the day.  


Confidence is key when it comes to visiting colleges. Why? Because some of the best information you will get from your visit is from actual students attending the college. While it’s awesome to have a tour and talk with your tour guides (who are often students themselves), being able to talk to a student while you grab a coffee at the café may give you insights into college life that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.


The same goes for talking with faculty and staff. You may be able to schedule ahead of time to talk with a specific staff member you’re interested in meeting with, but you will also get some great information by talking to other staff during your visit. Remember is to ask the student or staff member if they have a moment to chat, rather than launching into your questions. Introduce yourself, mention that you’re on a college visit and ask if they’d be willing to answer your questions about *insert question here*. You’ll be surprised by how willing other students are to do so!


One thing to remember here is that if your parents are visiting the college with you, politely ask them to let you talk with students and staff on your own. It’s a great experience for you to do this yourself and shows faculty that you are confident and prepared for your college visit.


What are some other good tips?


Take photos! And not just photos for your Instagram story. Take photos of everything you find interesting and even the things you don’t. You’ll be surprised by how great it is to get to look back on all the small details of the college once you’ve returned home.


Write down your initial thoughts about the college, best done if you can do it on the same day as your visit. Write down the things you love, the things you aren’t sure about, and the things you didn’t like. Even if it doesn’t seem important to write “didn’t like the vegetarian lunch options at the café in the quad”, you may find that this nugget of information is more relevant when it comes time to decide which college you will be attending.  


Venture off campus! Check out things within walking distance to where you would be living like places to eat, grocery shop, parks, libraries, etc. Think about all the places you go at home, and try to find where they are in relation to the college. A good “walking score” for a college is important, or if the college is bike friendly, a “biking score”!  


Pick up all the brochures and information packets you can during the visit. It will be nice to be able to read back over them once you’re back home, and often they have contact details and other important pieces of information. A good thing to remember while you’re visiting is that you might not remember all your questions on the day. The more information you have to take home with you, the easier it will be to find those things out post-visit.


Most of all – enjoy yourself! Even if the college you visit isn’t the one you end up attending, it is a great experience to visit and see what’s out there. Make the most of it!


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