College Visits Part 2: Getting the Most from Your College Visit

College visits are a big business on campuses – in some cases, hundreds of students and their families may pass through the campus on a visit on any given day. Therefore, you need to plan ahead and make reservations and appointments to ensure that you can have all the experiences you want while visiting. This is particularly important with pandemic protocols still in place on many campuses. Tours and appointments are limited, making it even more important to secure your spot early.

Plan Ahead

Arrange these appointments ahead of time; we suggest 2-3 months in advance.

  • A college tour – these are usually led by a student ambassador for the school. These are students who bubble with enthusiasm, can walk backwards while giving a talk, and have carefully curated scripts that highlight the marketing points the college will use to sell you on applying there. Pay attention to what the tour highlights to get a feeling for what the administration believes is the school’s biggest selling points. These tours can be done as a family.
  • A meeting with your admissions officer. Consider this a mini-interview. You, as the student, should attend this meeting without your parents. Your admissions officer will likely be the person who reads your application and will represent you in the discussions as the admissions team selects their class of students for the following year. You want to make a good impression! Have a list of questions ready to ask, listen carefully, and take notes. You are interviewing the admissions officer even more than they are interviewing you. You want to find out if this campus is a good fit for you.
  • A meeting with a financial aid officer. This is your opportunity to learn more about the school’s financial aid policy. At this meeting, your parents can be involved, after all, they are likely paying some or most of your expenses to attend. You should still have a voice and be very present in the meeting, because if you decide to utilize student loans, you will be the one solely responsible for paying them back. As with the admissions officer conversation, have a list of questions ready, and be prepared to take careful notes. Make sure to leave with a business card for the officer you met so that you can contact them later if questions arise.
  • A meeting with a professor in your area of study. This is typically handled through the admissions office. This will allow you to get a good feel for the academic nature of the campus. Send your parents to the coffee shop and meet with the professor on your own. As a rule, college professors do not deal with parents at all, and it will demonstrate your maturity and confidence as a student to meet with them independently of your parents. Once again, have a set of questions to ask, listen carefully, and take notes.
  • Visiting a class or seminar in your area of study. Some colleges will allow you to sit in on a class. If this is of interest to you, make an inquiry with the admissions office who will help you coordinate a classroom visit. Once again, send your parents off to grab some coffee and see the sights. This is a student-only event.

Explore on Your Own

Allow time on your campus visit to explore on your own. Some places you and your parents should see (depending on your interests) include:

  • The student center/student union – these are the hubs of student activities and usually have food service available. Grab a bite to eat while you are there, sit at a table where other students are sitting and strike up a conversation with them. Have some of your questions for students ready to go.
  • The library – don’t just walk in the front door, say you’ve seen it and leave. Hop on the elevator and see what is happening on different floors. What are the study areas like? Are they quiet? Can you see yourself able to study there? A good bit of college study happens in the quiet of the library, so you should feel comfortable there.
  • A dorm room or two – if your tour did not take you to a dormitory, you should see if you can visit a dorm room or two while on campus. Make sure you would be OK in those accommodations. Take note of things like if they are air conditioned, if refrigerators and microwaves are allowed, where are the bathrooms, and what is the roommate policy. Find out if students are required to live in the dorms and how many years. Check the pricing and availability of off-campus housing.
  • The bookstore – this is another campus hub. While it is fun to browse the branded college swag, also take some time to browse through the books. What books are professors requiring for the classes you will take? Flip through a few. Do they look interesting?
  • The career center – you will want to know how involved the school is in helping you land your first job. Will you have support? What kind of support? How well is the career centered staffed? When can you start using their services?
  • The school gym or other places where students participate in their hobbies.
  • The Greek Village if joining a fraternity or sorority []is part of your college plan. If the college has a large Greek community and you don’t plan to pledge, then asking some questions along the way about what students who don’t participate in Greek life do socially will be important.
  • Iconic campus places – like the arch at UGA or the Campanile at Berkeley.
  • The community around campus. Ask students on campus the best places to eat off campus that are in walking distance. Check out those spots along with shops and other places of interest nearby. Get a feel for the community you could be living in for four or more years.


Come up with something fun that you and your parents can do at each campus you visit. Do you want to find the very best pizza in every college town you visit? That will give you something to ask students about, and students can be very passionate about their pizza. Do you love ice cream? College towns usually have some good, hand-crafted ice cream offerings. Keep notes on your quest and create a family ranking system.

College visits are a great way to learn more about yourself and to spend some quality time with your family while dreaming together about your future. Go in with an open mind, a pen and paper, and the flexibility of knowing that no trip can be perfect. Sometimes the best things happen when plans go a little off the rails and you improvise in the moment.

For help with all aspects of college admissions including more insight into the value of the college visit, contact us at [email protected] for a free consultation.

Enjoy your visits!