Campus Visits: Formal Process

Formal campus visits typically include a scheduled guided tour of each campus, and interviews with admission officers and professors. You need to learn as much as possible about each campus, its culture, student body and academic departments, and you need to impress college representatives with whom you interview and gather as much information to compare your colleges to on another.

Formal campus visits have specific goals:

  • To learn as much as possible about each college’s campus, culture, student body, and academic departments.
  • To get a “gut feeling” for each college campus as a possible home for you during your college years.
  • To impress college representatives with whom you interview or visit.
  • To gather information to compare your colleges to one another.

Below is a condensed list of recommended tasks for conducting formal college campus visits. The tasks are listed in chronologic order. Tasks 4 through 23 should be completed for EACH college you visit.

1. Search and select seven to ten colleges/universities to visit.

2. Your parents should plan to accompany you on campus visits. Parents can observe campus features from a different perspective and can help note the uniqueness of each college. They also can help by sharing their impressions of each campus and by discussing your impressions.

Review your family’s schedule and decide on several visitation days available to both you and your parents. Preferably, your campus visits should be on normal school days.

3. If you visit college campuses during the school year, follow your high school’s guidelines for missing classes in order to visit colleges.

4. Research college websites to find which days your colleges conduct guided tours and interviews with admission officers.

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5. Call each college’s admissions office two to three weeks in advance to schedule a guided tour and interview. Have two or three dates in mind so you can be flexible to meet with college representatives when they are available. Schedule visitation days so it is possible to visit multiple campuses on the same trip.

6. Plan to attend information sessions to learn application and financial aid details specific to each college. Ask each college admissions office to reserve a place for your family in an information session offered on the day of your campus visit.

7. Conduct online research to find the most advantageous college professor(s) with whom you can interview, ask questions, and develop as an advocate for your admission. This professor should teach classes in your intended major or be your major’s Department Chairperson. Interviews should be scheduled on the same day as your guided tour to maximize efficient use of your family’s time.

Note: If you don’t have a college major in mind, it is not necessary to schedule an interview with a professor.

8. Call the selected professor in Task 7 above, or the department secretary, to set up an interview/visit with that professor.

9. Optional – Sit in on a class of interest (if time permits). Ask the professor in Task 7 above, or the department secretary, about the opportunity to sit in on a class the day of your campus visit.

10. Optional – If you have a great need for financial aid, schedule a visit with a financial aid officer. Ask about available financial aid and emphasize your need for scholarships and grants.

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11. Schedule a visit with anyone else you think will help you get a better “feel” for that college (such as students studying your intended major, students belonging to organizations you may join, class officers, the advisor for college freshman, a coach in your sport, etc.).

12. Create a campus visit itinerary. An example is provided.

13. Make travel arrangements. This includes making airline reservations (if needed), making hotel and rental car reservations, obtaining driving directions to each college on your itinerary, and adjusting your schedule to visit multiple colleges during your trip.

14. Conduct research and learn facts about the colleges you will visit and the department of your intended major. Familiarize yourself with questions typically asked by college admissions officers and the questions you should ask admission officers.

15. Become familiar with the biography or résumé of the professor in Task 7 above (biography or résumé is usually posted on the Department’s web page). Learn this professor’s interests and research projects. Knowing details about the professor will make a great impression and will allow you to hold intelligent, informed conversations. Familiarize yourself with questions you should ask professors.

16. Print helpful documents, a website campus map and gather helpful items to take with you on campus visits.

17. Make copies of your grade transcripts and student résumé to give to admissions officers and professors at each college you visit.

18. Travel to college campuses. Review printed campus maps to locate parking lots. Be on time for all meetings, tours, interviews, and other arranged events.

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19. Tour campuses, interview with college representatives and visit with current college students. Learn about academic departments, facilities and buildings, living conditions on campus and off campus, opportunities for on-campus activities and student involvement, services available to students, attitude/demeanor of current college students, attitude/demeanor of professors and other college representatives, and the quality of areas surrounding the campus.

Write answers to questions on the Campus Visit Questions sheets during your visit. Review the Campus Visit Checklist to make sure to do as much as possible to learn all you can about each college campus.

20. After each campus visit, drive through the surrounding area(s). Note your impressions of areas immediately adjacent to each campus; your notes will be used later when you compare campuses to one another.

21. After each campus visit, review the list of College Visit Questions (and complete any unanswered questions to the best of your ability (from memory). Then complete the Campus Visit Summary Sheet. Talk over your impressions and feelings with your parents.

22. Send thank you cards/letters to college representatives with whom you interviewed.

23. Place notes and other information gathered during campus visits into the proper folders in your paper filing system for future reference.