Photo Credit: Pacificunion.edu

With college right around the corner, this semester is the perfect time for everyone’s favorite excused absence from school: college visits!

Whether you have a dream school or have narrowed it down to 10, visiting different colleges is a great way to help you know what school is best for you. Check out these tips on how to make the most of your college visits.

Pick the right time You want to make sure you really get to experience campus life, so picking the right time is an important step. If possible, try not to schedule your visit during a holiday when the campus will be empty. College Board suggests visiting Monday-Thursday since college students won’t be out and about on the weekend. While the spring of your junior year is a great time to start researching your options, spring break and summer visits are also great options.

Research before you go Before you even step foot on campus, make sure you know some basic information about the school. You don’t have to know what you want to do yet (people change their majors all the time), but thinking about several majors that interest you will help you ask better questions and get useful feedback. Also, start making a list of things that you want out of your college experience. From studying abroad to joining clubs and organizations, make sure the schools you’re touring offer what you’re looking for.

Caroline Kirbo, a sophomore at Texas Tech University, said she regretted not looking into housing while touring Tech. “I chose one of the oldest dorms because it was the only one I knew of,” Kirbo said. “If I had been given more tours of different dorms, I would have chosen another one.” While it might not seem like a big deal at the time, make sure you ask about things like housing, eating on campus, requirements of your major, extracurricular opportunities, athletics, and whatever else you’d like to get out of your time at college.

Go on a campus tour Even though it might seem cheesy or contain general information, go on the generic campus tour. You’ll have plenty of time to search out more information specific to your needs later and your tour guide will be able to point you in the right direction. This will also give you the chance to get a feel for the campus and get practical information on topics like finances and food.

Meet people While your tour guide will have lots of information, they might not have specific info on your major. To give you the best idea of what it will be like to pursue your specific interests, try to meet with professors from your department, and students too. Sophomore Kelly Gross toured the University of South Carolina and said one of the most helpful things she did was attend an appointment with a special honors programs she intended on joining. “That was helpful because I found out exactly what the purpose of that program was and how it would benefit me,” she said.

Reflect After each college visit, jot down your feelings. It might sound cheesy, but it’s really easy to let other universities influence how you feel. Don’t wait till you’ve seen five to figure out your thoughts. After each visit, record how you felt about the campus, how many requirements it fulfilled, and if you could see yourself going there. Whether you visit two or 10, you’ll be glad you took the time to remember what you thought in the moment without outside influences.

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