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College Visits

The following advice is taken wholly from the guidance pages of the Fremont, CA Union High School District.  Information that specifically addressed California concerns has been modified or deleted. .  

College Visits  Whenever returning graduates are asked, “What one thing MOST helped you in deciding where to go to college?” they always give the same response: “Visiting the campuses.” Graduates will tell you that the visits made to campuses were more important than reading the catalogs, talking with college representatives or attending the College Fair. They emphasize the importance of visiting the admissions office, taking a tour, and talking to both college officials and students in attendance. It is best to try and visit while the university is in session so you can see the school in action.

Why is visiting campuses so important? It is vital because no one should make a decision as important as where to attend college merely on the basis of pictures in a pretty booklet or on someone else’s opinion. It takes effort to determine how well a college fits you. Spending quality time on campus is the best way to measure fit. Quality time means more than taking the tour and attending a football game or campus event. You’ll want to spend a night or two in a residence hall, sit in on some classes, eat in the dining halls and spend time talking to students and faculty. Sophomores and juniors considering a particular college might choose to take part in a summer program for high school students offered at that university. These programs provide a preview of the life of a college student at that institution. While you might not be able to visit every campus you’re considering, the ideas that follow may help you to get an inside scoop without making that initial visit.  

Virtual Tours 

Click on the university’s website - This seems obvious, but you’ll want to take the “virtual tour” and also fully explore the resources available at the college site. Some sites offer online chats so you can talk with current students and admission officers.  

Read the college’s printed material - the course catalog can be especially helpful. It outlines the college’s philosophy and mission statement, as well as providing information about majors, course requirements and offerings. When reading the glossy brochures, however, keep in mind that the university representatives are seeking to portray their school in the best possible light.  

Check out the student newspaper- You’ll find links to the college newspaper either from the college’s own website. Pay special attention to the issues that seem important to students on that campus - would these be important to you? You’ll also learn about student peeves and about activities on campus.  

Take the student-led campus tour via videotape- At you can order a copy of the campus tour filmed by college counselors visiting each campus. While none of these will substitute for a campus visit, they will help you learn more about the colleges you’re considering.   

 Visiting the College Campus   

 Select several (six or seven) campuses you are thinking about attending. Select state universities and colleges as well as private colleges. Remember that you are just looking at colleges and that private colleges provide more financial aid, in general, than public colleges and universities provide. 

Contact the Admissions Offices, ask about tours, and set up specific times when you can talk to an Admissions Officer. If you know what your major will be, try to get an appointment with the Department Chair or someone in the Department Office. If you have the time, make plans to stay overnight in a campus dorm. Some campuses have visitation days scheduled. Contact individual campuses or check their web page.  

Step 1: Visit local colleges to get experience handling a college visit.  

Our local colleges include all five kinds of campuses: 

Step 2: Plan ahead for your tours and visits.  

Before you visit the campus, consider some of the options below and create questions in advance of your visit.  

Step 3: The College Visit/Tour  

Step 4: Make a “Quick-Check” list for each college visit.  

If you don't, the schools will become a blur after visits to several campuses. Include the following type of information to personalize your list or use the sample in this booklet.  

Questions You Should Ask on a Tour  

Questions to ask can be divided into four areas: academic, social, surroundings and general.  

A. Academic Questions 

 B. Social Questions  

 C. Questions about the Surrounding Area  

D. General Questions