College Visiting Tips

April 21, 2016

Posted By: Shaunescy


Are you getting ready to visit some colleges? Spring is a great time to tour campuses. Plan ahead when possible. Most colleges and universities have an online scheduling system for campus tours. It is tempting to squeeze as many schools as you can into one day, but this can create stress and take away from the enjoyment of each unique campus visit. Visiting schools of different sizes and different locations like urban, rural etc. helps students visualize themselves in those environments.

The college tour often starts or ends with an information session about the application process and a general overview of the school. They are marketing to you and your student as much as you are considering them. Student tour guides will take you in groups around campus. Here are a few tips to make your visit productive and enjoyable:

  • Make a reservation for the tour. The admissions office will then be ready for you with materials, and you will feel like a special guest. Have your student create the schedule and be a part of the process.
  • Encourage your student to have a few questions ready to ask at each school such as: What kinds of things do students do on the weekend? Do most students live on campus? What is your largest class size?
  • Visit when students are in session so you get a feel for a normal campus day. Carve out some time to walk around campus on your own.
  • Eat lunch in the cafeteria. Check out the food, bulletin boards and the students.
  • Visit a class if it is an option. Often you can sign up to do this. Ask to visit a class in a subject area you are considering studying.
  • Look up a friend who attends the school and try to visit with them about their experience.
  • Spend some time in the closest town or the college neighborhood. Go out for ice cream. Attend a sporting event. Get a feel for the surroundings.
  • If you are further along in the acceptance process, some schools offer overnight visits. This is a good way to get a feel for the school without parents.
  • Have your student set up an interview if it is a school they are really interested in. This allows them to ask more in-depth questions and the interviewer might note they made this extra effort in their file.
  • After the tour, encourage your student to send an e-mail to the college admissions representative that works with your state. This can just be a note saying they enjoyed the tour and asking any further questions they might have.

College visits can be a really exciting part of the college selection process. It can also be a crazy, busy and stressful time with your son or daughter. Bring along a good sense of humor because, no matter how much you plan, things like weather or the funny tour guide can sometimes make or break the college visit. Keep in mind that students change their minds all the time. The school that they were not that excited about in the beginning may end up being their favorite in the end. The most important tip is to make college touring fun and to enjoy this special time, as it goes by all too fast.

Mary Jo O’Donnell is the former Executive Director of the Bozeman Schools Foundation. She is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling and is currently finishing her certification in College Admissions Counseling. Mary Jo coaches high school students and families through the college search and application process through her business, The Right Fit Consulting. She is committed to helping students find a college or post high school environment that will offer personal and academic challenge, support and success. For more information visit or call 406-580-8305.

More from Montana Parent

Thank You to Our Sponsors