There are so many ways to research colleges these days: virtual tours, online chats with current students, alumni LinkedIn® profiles, social media and, of course, in-person visits. It’s likely you’ll be doing a combination of several methods.

If you are able to experience the campus in person, here are helpful tips on how to make the most of your in-person visit. You might not have time to do them all, and that’s okay. But pick out a few things for your campus visit. After all, you might be spending four years of your life on campus—it’s worth it to spend a few hours making sure it feels like a fit.

1. Research Before You Arrive

Deep diving into the school’s website and social media can give you a real sense of the school’s culture and help you decide what you want to see on campus.

2. Make a Pre-visit Checklist

List school features that are most important to you. That way, you’ll remember what to look for on each visit. Some examples include:

  • Transportation options
  • Athletic facilities
  • Diversity of student body
  • Typical class size
  • On-campus work opportunities

3. Visit When School Is in Session

Seeing students hang out on campus, taking note of campus events, and checking out the campus center can help you get a vibe on what student life is like.

4. Sit In on a Class

See if you can sit in on classes you’re interested in. Most faculty have their email address listed on the school website—reach out and ask if you can audit.

5. Get to Know Your Tour Guide

Go beyond the information you can get from the school’s website by asking your tour guide about their individual experience. Some good questions might include:

  • Why did you choose this school over others you applied to?
  • What do you do for fun on the weekends?
  • What do you wish you knew before you arrived as a freshman?
  • What has your experience been with campus services like academic advisers, internship placement, or counseling?
  • In what areas do you think the school can improve?

6. Take Pictures and Notes

These will be helpful reminders both when you’re making your college list and deciding where to enroll.

7. Read the Student Newsletter

Check out what campus, local, and global issues matter to students.

8. Eat in a Dining Hall

Find out if there are healthy, appetizing options and if the dining hall hours match your schedule.

9. Step Off-Campus

Explore the local community after the tour to get a sense of dining, shopping, recreation, and transportation options.

10. Stay the Night

Arrange an overnight visit or bunk with a friend who’s already a student there so you can get a taste of the school’s social life and dorm living.

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