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  • Writer's pictureDanielle

How to Know Which Colleges To Visit: A Guide for Prospective Students

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When it comes to finding the “perfect college," one of the most important steps is deciding which campuses to visit. Campus visits take a lot of time, money, and thorough research. With so many colleges and universities across the United States, deciding on which ones to visit can be challenging.

But don't worry, in this article we will review the process of answering the question, "How to know which colleges to visit?" and take a look at why students should visit a college campus, including which colleges and universities to visit, and provide helpful tips to make the most out of each campus tour. Read on to check out how to know which colleges to visit.

1. Figure out what's important to you:

Before starting your college search, ask yourself the following questions to help you figure out what you might want in a college:

  • What areas of study interest me?

  • Do I have an ideal location, climate, terrain for a college campus?

  • What extracurricular activities am I passionate about and would like to be involved with in college?

  • What size campus appeals to me, small, medium, or large?

  • What type of locale am I most interested in being in rural, urban, suburban?

2. Research, research, research!

Now that you have an idea of what you want out of a college, start researching colleges that fit your interests and needs. You can find information online at a college website, college help websites, college guide books and other resources to collect information about college majors, campus culture and requirements for admission.

3. Create a list of your top five (or ten!)

Come up with a list of about 5 to 10 schools, which is manageable. Typically counselors will encourage students to categorize each school as a 'safe', 'match', or 'reach' school. Make sure you have a good mix of each of these in your list.

4. Talk it over with a counselor or teacher

See if you can meet with your high school counselor, and if they are unavailable try to meet with teachers and or mentors who can provide insights into your college choices. Maybe they attended the colleges on your list, or have some good information that could be useful, as they know you as a student. This can help you refine your list based on your academic strengths and goals.

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5. Go to your local college fair

College Fairs are a great way to meet college representatives. While there you can also get brochures and learn more about schools that are on your list. Check out upcoming college fairs in your area!

6. Attend virtual tours and info sessions

Many colleges offer virtual tours and info sessions for interested students. Participating in these will help you get a good feel for a campus and its offerings.

7. Reach out to current students

Use social media and your current network to find connections with current students. You can ask about campus life, classes, clubs and activities across campus and get a first-hand thoughts and experiences from them.

8. Consider costs

College isn’t cheap, so understand how affordable your selected colleges may be. Review tuition costs, financial aid options and available scholarships (at the school and in your community). If you’re visiting a local college, explore tuition discounts between your high school and the college. Some institutions have partnerships based on location/residency, Pell Grant eligibility and more!

9. Plan your visit

With your narrowed down list, get strategic when scheduling your visits. Here are tips to consider:

  • Location and Proximity: Try to group visits to colleges in the same region to save time and money on travel.

  • Timing: Try to plan you visits during the fall or spring semester when classes are in session to get a sense of campus life – avoid holidays and summertime, if possible.

  • Appointments: Schedule campus tours, information sessions, specialty visits, classroom visits and meetings with admission counselors in advance.

10. Make the most of your visit

During your visits, consider using our book, The College Visit Journal: Campus Visits Demystified, for a checklist of things to observe and questions to ask about campus atmosphere, on-campus resources, and the friendliness of the staff and students. Take notes and pictures to help you remember your impressions. You can buy the book here or here!

11. Reflect, research and reevaluate

After your visit, take some time to reflect, do more research based on what you learned and reflect on your time on campus. Was the college what you expected? How did you feel during the visit?

12. Get feedback

Talk about your visits with friends and family, as their insights can provide valuable perspectives as you make your final decisions.

Remember, how to know which colleges to visit, is an essential part of the college selection process. By following these steps about how to know which colleges to visit, and staying true to your priorities, you'll be well-prepared to make informed decisions and find the best-fit college for your academic and personal goals.

Best of luck!

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