How To Schedule A College Visit And Make The Most Of Your Time There

Once you've decided which colleges you'll be visiting with your student, it's time to schedule the visit. Here are a few things you should do before you head out on your big trip to be sure you're making the most of the time you have there:

1. Schedule a tour—and more.

Here's the general how-to on scheduling your college tour.

1. Go to the college’s website, and click on the "Admissions" tab.

2. If it's a university where graduate programs are option, be sure to go to undergraduate admissions.

3. Click on the "Visit" or "Visiting Campus" tab.

4. Choose the right option for your visit—e.g., Daily Visit, Weekend Visit (if offered).

5. Check the calendar for an available day that you can attend, and click on the day.

6. Fill out the required information—e.g., name, address, school and graduation year, academic interests, etc.

7. If you have the time, sign up for everything else they offer, including a class visit, specific majors information sessions, lunch, a meeting with a professor or coach, and more.

8. Click "Submit"!

9. Check for a confirmation email. If you don’t receive one within 24 hours, make sure to contact the admissions department to check that your request was received.

If you're only able to sign up for a tour, call the admissions office to ask if there's anything else available. You're probably only visiting each school once, so you want to pack in as much as possible. Ideally, your student will be able to observe a class, meet with either a student or a professor (or both!), and chat with the admissions representative for your area of the country.

You should plan on an information session at each school. Often, the information session is part of the tour, but if it's not, be sure to sign up separately. It's generally led by an admissions staff member, and it's a great chance to learn about the school’s application and financial aid processes.

2. Make a list of what's important.

The things we just mentioned—tour, information session, meetings—are core to every student's college visit. But it's also important to personalize your time at the school.

Does your student intend to major in chemistry or English? Plan to check out a chem lab or the writing center. Do they want to try out for the swim team? Visit the school’s pool. Are they thinking about joining the school's volunteer organization? Attend a meeting. You can find information about facilities, organizations, and personnel on the school's website, so do your research and make a list of things you know you want to do on campus.

3. Consider a virtual pre-tour.

Sites like Campus Tours and eCampusTours provide virtual tours of hundreds of colleges and universities. These are by no means substitutes for actual college tours, but they can highlight specific campus attractions and help you plan your trip. For example, you might see a sculpture garden with outdoor workspace you didn't know existed and decide to explore it as part of your visit.

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