Make the Most out of College Visits

Last updated Feb 15, 2024 
| aplustutoring

March is here! It’s a time to look forward to the first hints of spring and, for high school students, one of the best times of the year to visit colleges—spring break. Some students may consider devoting time to something stressful and school related like looking at colleges to be the last thing they would want to do during any break. However, college visits are essential to the college admissions process. They help students get to know colleges and colleges to get to know them, helping students to make decisions about where they want to apply. For those ready to explore colleges in person, read on for tips for what to do before, during, and after your visit.

Before Your Visit

  • Know your purpose. Students heading out on their college tour should see these visits as an opportunity to assess whether they can see themselves fitting in on campus, to gather information directly from current students and faculty, and to demonstrate interest. 
  • Have a plan. While you are visiting colleges to see what they have to offer, you have a job to do, too! Since one of your goals is to determine how well a school aligns with your preferences, start by researching the college and developing a list of questions and must-see spots to visit on and off campus. Dig deep to develop a sense of what deal breakers warrant crossing a school off your list. Don’t like the dining halls’ menu options? Cross it off. Further refine your idea of what qualities you’re looking for in a school by visiting local schools first, aiming for variety. For example, visit a small local liberal arts college and a big public state school just to get a feel for which option is more you. Because a college visit is also supposed to offer more than what you might learn at a college fair or website, your mission is to get answers from more than just your tour guide. Talk to students, sit in on a class, or arrange a meeting with a professor in your major or alumni from your high school. 
  • Adjust expectations. A good plan takes into account how each experience will vary based on the type of school visited and how each school structures its student visits. Larger schools, for example, will likely have visitor’s centers and group information sessions followed by a student-led campus tour. Smaller schools, on the other hand, will have an admissions office but may have group information sessions at another location before their student-led campus tours. Generally, expect tours to last three to fours hours with the student center, library, a dorm room, a dining hall, and an academic building as key locations.
  • Make arrangements. Prevent missed opportunities by registering in advance for a tour and information session, which you can do online via a school’s admissions office. Also, since some schools track a students interest level, called “demonstrating interest,” make sure you sign in for each college you visit. Inquire about visiting a class and explore any special programming, such as open houses or special information sessions. Ask your school counselor to connect with any current students and alumni who can provide a more authentic and personalized visit. If you have friends or family members with connections to the school you are visiting, reach out to see if they would be willing to show you around. And, most importantly, choose your visit date carefully to guarantee class is in session, so you get as close to a day-in-life experience as possible.
  • Get ready. You don’t want to miss your tour start time because you can’t find a parking spot or bail on checking out a campus fitness facility because you wore the wrong shoes, so don’t leave home without everything you will need to make your visit run as smoothly as possible. Start with an itinerary that includes scheduled tours, class visits, and information sessions plus any other must-see spots. For example, consider a visit to the financial aid office with your family to get an idea of what the college would cost. Pack a phone charger and water bottle. Choose an outfit and shoes that are the perfect balance of put-together and comfortable. Arrange parking passes, if necessary, and research other transportation options. A campus map is a good idea, too.

During Your Visit

  • Ask Questions. Doing a good job preparing for your visit, should give you a solid list of information you want to know and questions you want answered. For example, how students get around campus or how they have fun on weekends and choose roommates. You might also ask about academic and extracurricular programs or tutoring and career services. It’s natural to be anxious to ask, be brave! Admissions officers and tour guides want to answer your questions and won’t punish you for speaking up.
  • Take Notes (and Photos!). The purpose of your visit is to gather information, and it’s impossible to remember everything without keeping a record of it. That’s why you will want to take good notes and photos throughout your visit. There are a few ways you can take notes. You can use a spreadsheet or keep a running list of pros and cons. If the idea of typing/writing notes in the moment sounds overwhelming, see if you can make audio or video recordings of your tour(s). If you can’t, or if you would prefer, you can also make recordings of your own after a visit that you can use to remind yourself of your experience and make notes from later. Lastly, photograph places of importance to you; they will help you visualize the college better as you consider your options or write your application essays. 
  • Collect Contact Information. As you meet people, request business cards or contact information. You will definitely want to send “Thank You” cards or emails within a few days of your visit, and you may want to refer to them during the application process.

After Your Visit: How A+ Can Help

College visits are a critical component of a student’s college search. It’s a time to learn about a school, connect with students and staff, and discover what it is that you want (or don’t want) out of a college. Visits in the spring are ideal, especially for juniors, and can help lay the groundwork for follow up visits as you refine your college list and ultimately choose where you want to attend. At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our College Admissions Coaching program can guide you through the admissions process, including researching schools and preparing for visits. We also offer college essay help and test prep so you can impress admissions officers with your words and your scores. 

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, contact us here.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What They're Saying


Contact Us


A+ Test Prep and Tutoring -- Philadelphia

505 York Road, Suite 6, Jenkintown PA 19046

A+ Test Prep and Tutoring -- Montgomeryville

593-1 Bethlehem Pike, Unit #4, Montgomeryville PA 18936