College Counseling:
Planning a College Visit

No publication or website, no matter how thorough, can provide you with a complete picture of a college or university.  A campus visit is the best way to see and experience for yourself what a place is like.  Advance planning is important to help you make the most of your visit.  School websites post campus tour and visitor schedules and calendars.  Some schools require that you reserve a spot, so be sure to attend to that if such is the policy at the schools you aim to visit.

Questions to ask before showing up

Is it possible for me to sit in on or at least visit a class?
Are there any host programs available which would include a student overnight on campus?
Are interviews available on campus? (Most do not require/offer on-campus interviews)
Can I set up a tour of a department I’m particularly interested in?
Contact the coaching staff (if intent on playing a sport in college) for a personal visit.

Checklist for your tour

Be sure to get:

  • A copy of the student newspaper
  • A course catalog
  • Regional Rep’s name/contact information
  • Tour guide’s name and contact information
  • University brochures on special programs, scholarships
  • Departmental flyer or brochures on lectures/events available to students

Plan to actually eat a meal or at least have a snack on campus in the student center or a cafeteria, no matter how out of place it might make you feel.  This is a great opportunity to see how students relate to each other in their downtime.  If possible, introduce yourself to a couple students and strike up a conversation to get a true picture of the place.

Visit the campus ministry office, chaplain’s office, or Newman Center to see how your faith will be supported there. If there’s no formal faith support offered on campus, visit the nearest church to see how distant that commute is and what kind of a community worships there. 

Following up

Before you get home, take notes about what the place was like, the flavor of the student body, what you liked about it all, what left you wanting more, etc.  The immediate reactions you have while on campus will become generalized over time.  Mark your impressions now.

Send a thank you note to your tour guide and regional rep (if you met with him/her) when you get back home. Emailing one is fine.

Keeping yourself honest

Campus guides are not all alike. Some are energetic and engaging as representatives for their school; others may be a little less well-rounded or informed.  Don’t judge a school solely by one student tour guide. 

Beware the sunshine factor.  Pleasant temps and a bright, sunny day can be seductive; cold
weather, rain, or clouds can dampen your interest.  Try not to let the weather affect your judgment.  Note what the weather was in your log/journal for future reference. 


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