When Should I Start Visiting Colleges?

When Should I Start Visiting CollegesA college visit is one of the best ways for prospective students to learn more about a campus, which is why many high schools recommend that students start visiting colleges before they apply. These visits allow students to get a feel for the school, meet others who may apply and even sit in on some classes in a field that interests them. Though some parents encourage their kids to visit colleges as freshmen, it’s usually best to wait until the teen’s sophomore year or later.

What is a College Visit?

The typical college visit takes place over a few hours. Prospective students and their parents arrive on campus and meet with a tour guide. The guide will take them on a tour of the campus that shows them the various residence halls, different buildings on campus and the library. Many colleges also recommend that students schedule an appointment to meet with faculty members in the department that hosts their future majors and with the dean of admissions or a counselor. Students may also have the option of spending a weekend on campus living with a student in one of the dorms.

How Should I Prepare for the Visit?

Ryan Lytle of U.S. News and World Report suggests that students take some time to learn more about each campus before they start visiting colleges. Something as simple as looking at the college’s website can give valuable information regarding the majors available, the popular activities on campus, and the student body in general. They may also want to take the time to think about what interests them most about college and what they want in a campus. Students may want a school with an active Greek system, a state of the art technology center or the ability to take classes online (also see: Cheapest Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees 2014) .

What Questions Should I Ask?

Students sometimes make the mistake of going on a college visit without first thinking of what they want to get out of the experience. Simply taking a tour and then leaving won’t give the student the information he or she needs. Prior to the college visit, students should make a short list of questions they want to ask about the school. This list may include questions about the graduation rate, internships available in different programs and even the minors they can pick. They can ask questions of the tour guides and others on campus.

When Should I Visit?

The best time to visit a college is usually once the student begins thinking about college. Some go as early as their sophomore year of high school, while others wait until their junior or senior years and right before they send out their applications. Those who visit in their earlier years often get little out of the visit. Going later in the high school years allows students to have some idea of what they want from a college and lets them know what to look for when walking around campus and taking a tour.

Taking a college visit is the best way for students to find out if a campus can meet all their needs and fulfill all their wants. They can see everything from the activities on campus to what the professors are like in different classes. The best time to start visiting colleges is usually during students’ sophomore, junior and senior years in high school.