Before choosing the best college to attend, it is important for students to test the waters. Making a college visit and touring the campus can be pivotal in a student's decision to apply to school. Let our tips, tools, and expert advice guide you through the touring process. Can't make the trip to a school? Find out how to explore a school without being there, too.

Finding the right fit


For high school students who are in the process of researching a variety of colleges and universities, admissions professionals recommend scheduling campus visits to get a better feel for the schools. Here are 10 tips for how students can get the most out of college visits.

 

1. Start planning early
 
As students get closer to the final year of high school, their schedules are filled trying to balance school and a social life—all while exploring potential college campuses. To lessen the stress, some experts suggest families begin discussing college as early as when a student is in elementary school.

2. Visit campuses while on vacation
 
Trying to plan extended road trips to a long list of schools can be laborious. Instead, families should take detours to visit campuses while on other trips or vacations, recommends Mary Conger, founder of the campus visit service Collegocity.


3. Take virtual tours
 
Some colleges may be too far from home for students to make an initial visit. For those individuals, there are now online services—such as eCampusTours and YourCampus360—that allow prospective students to explore a college campus from the comfort of their couches.


4. Talk to students on campus
 
While campus tour guides may be able to answer many of your academic questions, blogger Lynn O'Shaughnessy notes that they are often paid to show their school in a positive light. Prospective students should talk to current students on campus to get a clearer picture of a school's culture.


5. Explore academic departments
 
Along with being comfortable with the campus environment, students should explore academic departments that are of interest to them, advises Peter Van Buskirk. Talk to professors or sit in on a class lecture to get a feel for a program and explore what opportunities would be available to you.


6. Visit a dining hall or student center
 
Get a feel for the school's atmosphere by observing current students in a cafeteria or student union. This will give you a chance to experience what it would be like to be a student at that college or university.


7. Ask about campus safety
 
With the amount of time traditional college students spend on campus, feeling safe on school grounds is an important factor to consider when exploring colleges. Prospective students should ask tour guides about campus safety policies and explore the school's history of on-campus incidents.


8. Get financial aid information
 
Along with understanding the culture of a school and the academic options it provides, students should also research financial aid opportunities available at a college or university. Blogger O'Shaughnessy recommends students have a list of questions to ask a school's financial aid department while on campus.


9. Pick up a student newspaper
 
While on campus, make sure to check out the college newspaper, which will clue you into the important issues on campus and what students care about, says Don Fraser Jr., director of education and training at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.


10. Document your visit
 
If you're visiting more than one school during your college search, each campus is likely to blend together, notes blogger Van Buskirk. While on school grounds, take notes during the tour and capture images of campus in order to create a visual index of what you've seen to review later.

Share your campus visit tips with us
 
Did we miss any college tour tips that would be helpful for prospective students? Share your advice with us on our Facebook page.



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