There are many steps in choosing which college to attend. There is a lot of research to do when making the college list, and it can play an important role in making the final decision. The college visit gives students a chance to determine whether they will fit into that college’s environment. Remember that you will be spending the next four (maybe more) years of your life at the college you choose, so be sure you are sure!

The best time to visit is when the college is in session so you get a realistic view of “college life.” Clearly, this is not the best time for you since you, too, are in session and missing a day or two of your AP Physics class could be problematic. So you just have to go visit when you are able to and make the most of it. A campus visit is usually half a day with an information session and a campus tour. However, if you want to make a day of it, you can also arrange to meet with a specific department or professor, attend a class or club meeting, and meet with an admissions or financial aid officer. You can arrange your visit by calling the school or going to its website and searching for “Campus Tours.” Always give your name when calling since some colleges will keep track of your “demonstrated interest” in them.

Before you go on your visit, you should thoroughly research the college website and list any questions that you may have. If you have a specific major in mind, read up on it so that you aren’t starting from scratch when you visit. Be sure that the questions you ask are not easy to find on the website or with a Google search. “Follow” or “Like” the college on Twitter or Facebook.

Here are a few questions for you to think about asking pertaining to academics:

  • How often do TAs teach classes?
  • How accessible are my professors?
  • Do you accept AP tests for credit?
  • Do you have a limit?
  • How many students are in a freshman class? How about upper-level classes?
  • Is your approach more lecture-based, discussion-based or hands-on?
  • Do you have an honors college?
  • Do you have research opportunities for underclassmen?
  • How many students participate in an internship program?

While you are on campus, also try to ask a student what he/she likes and does not like about the school. Check out brochures and be sure to pick up a copy of the campus newspaper. It will give you a great picture of what is happening on campus. Visit campus facilities that interest you (science and computer labs, recreation center, etc.), and be sure to check out the dorms and the food (eat it)! Also, take pictures of the campus and keep notes. You will be surprised how quickly you will forget if you do not keep track.

When you have completed your visit, write down the pros and cons from your perspective. Give the college a grade so that you can compare when you are making your final decision.

Can’t make a visit? Try a virtual tour.

The College Board provides a great campus visit checklist. Check it out here.

Have fun! You are about to begin an important new chapter of your life!

You can find an extensive list of questions here.