College Visit Checklist

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First published April 12, 2013. Updated May 25, 2022

The college search process is daunting. Using a college visit checklist is a big help in knowing what to look for. The insight you purposefully gather will help you make an informed decision and the best decision for you.

top image - college lecture hall seats, bottom image - 3 blue, red and white college visit checklist sheets

Last summer we spontaneously took two college tours just because we were in the vicinity of those colleges.  We immediately realized how important it is to prepare for your college tours. You can’t be a spectator in this process and gain anything of value. So to make these visits be more productive I just had to make a College Visit Checklist, of course. 

How Should I Prepare for a College Visit?

  1. Spend time on the school’s website and learn more about the school and how it meets your unique interests and needs. 
  2. Think about what is important to you in selecting a university.
  3. Research what programs of study are available at the university that may interest you.
  4. Print out and review the College Visit Checklist in preparation for your visit.
  5. Be prepared to take notes. Trust me, you’re not going to remember everything after the tour if you don’t get it down in writing.
  6. Take advantage of the resources for more than 140 college resources available at College Scoops.
  7. Talk to friends, teachers and neighbors who attended the university.

College Visit Checklist

Using a prepared college visit worksheet helps your student pay attention during the visit and focus on what’s important. It also helps her ask specific questions if  topics important to her are not covered in the presentation.  There’s also room to add information that we didn’t anticipate (which was a lot!).

Print out your copy of the university visit checklist. Yes, a printed checklist is old school, but research has shown that writing information down helps the brain process it more effectively than typing it on a screen.

Whether you take notes on your phone or by hand, it’s a good idea to arrive for college visits with a prepared list of questions and to record the answers and information you learn.

We found it helpful to look up some of the general information about the school on the school’s website before the visit. Using that information, we got started on filling out the checklist.  That research provided a quick orientation to the school and allowed my daughter to focus more on the presentation for answers to specific questions that were important to her.

close up of 3 college visit checklist sheets

You can download your own copy of my College Visit Questions pdf to use for your college tours. Simply sign up for our newsletter and receive access to the checklist plus the entire Organized 31 VIP Resources Library filled with 150+ resources. 

Sign up for campus visits at as many colleges as possible.

  • If you’re unable to visit a college in person, most offer a virtual tour option.
  • Sign up for both the group information session with the admissions rep and also a campus tour with a student tour guide.
  • It’s a great way to get a feel for college life at each particular college.
  • After the official tour, be sure to take time to wander around the college campus on your own with a campus map.

What questions should I ask at a college visit?

  • Questions about academic programs, majors and areas of study you’re interested in:
    • Requirements of specific programs
    • Opportunities to work with professors or on research projects
    • Access to specialized facilities or equipment
    • Internship opportunities and requirements
    • Study abroad opportunities and requirements
    • Specific questions for an admissions officer about your application
  • Questions about college campus facilities that interest you:
    • Dorms and dorm rooms
    • Dining halls, food options and accommodations for dietary restrictions and food allergies
    • Classrooms, labs and access to specific equipment
    • Library
    • Gym
    • Student Union
    • Medical clinic
    • Bookstore
    • Parking and parking passes
  • Questions about student life
    • Popular activities
    • Campus life traditions
    • Greek life
    • Sports
    • Restaurants on campus and off
    • Off campus activities and shopping
    • Campus safety
    • Access to public transportation
  • Create your own list of questions based on your unique needs and interests. Talk to current students, if you feel inclined. A good opening question is, “What are the best things about going to this school?”

You can do online research and gain a lot of information before your visit. Look up

  • Information on the college career center page
  • Campus newspaper and student newspapers
  • Social media
    • Check the school’s accounts
    • Check school related hashtags
  • Check out the detailed information and virtual tours of many college on College Scoops
woman holding notebook in college dorm room with desk and book case

We visited 3 universities in 2 days.  We heard presentations and took the tours at each of the three College Visit Checklist.  We were inundated with a lot of information and details. To keep track of the information unique to each school, it was key to have a college visit checklist for each school and fill it out during or immediately after each visit. 

clear folder with checklist and pen

I realized that carrying the loose pages of checklists around wouldn’t work. I found a sturdy folder to hold the checklists and a pen. Having the folder was also helpful for holding brochures, handouts and business cards we picked up at each college. The folder and the checklist worked well for us on the visits. 

Since we took the time and made the effort to drive 10 hours each way on this trip, I wanted to make sure that my daughter (well,  really all of us) got the most out of each college visit.  And the checklist helped us do just that.

I can’t overstate the benefits of a college visit checklist in helping your student gather the information needed to make an informed decision on the best choice for her and her future.

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Pin for later so you can easily find all these tips for preparing for college and this college visit checklist.



You can find all our best college tips in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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8 Comments

  1. You are such a good Mom! Love the folder, love the “clip board” I bet your daughter was happy to have them! College visits are stressful, but it sounds like you were prepared!

    Thanks for linking up to the In and Out of the Kitchen party! I am always amazed at your organization skills!

    Cynthia at

  2. Following the Scout motto- Be Prepared! I hear ya…my daughter is finishing her 2nd yr of college and back when it came time to consider colleges we were stunned she was old enough to graduate and go to college – where was our baby?! Campus visits are important because something can look good on paper (or online) and when you walk through the campus you will usually get an immediate ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ feeling that you should listen to. That tiny voice that says I ‘just don’t feel it here’, or ‘I’m getting a great feeling about this university’! Visiting from the chicken chick. Good luck with the search and upcoming graduation! 🙂
    shawn

    1. Shawn, Thanks for the encouragement. It’s such a daunting task! I’ll try to pay closer attention to that “tiny voice.” It’s good to hear that other moms and dads survived kicking their babies out of the nest. 🙂

  3. What a great checklist to keep confusion away. Thank you for sharing this at the Anything Blue Friday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see you again at the bash! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  4. Hi Susan! This is so clever– but first off, I’m in-love with your blog! I really like that upcycled sweater idea. I just want to add on books and fees, yeah some schools are using e-texbooks with pricey access fees, we need to keep that in mind.

    1. Lisa, thanks for the support! And hadn’t thought about checking the books and fees, but that’s definitely important to consider. Thanks for letting me know.

  5. Hi Susan,
    my name is Sandra Bugbee my Daughter is 17 and will be Graduating June 2020. We feel like we are flying blind as we have never had to Apply for College in over 30 years and so much has changed. if you could advise as we feel like we have come to the party late.
    Thank You in Advance
    Sincerely
    Sandra A Bugbee

    1. My third “baby” is in his junior year, so I really do understand how overwhelming the college process can be, Sandra. I’ve shared many of our “lessons learned” on the blog. I’ve also collected all my different posts and listed them here on this page – Top Tips for College Success. Let me know if you have any other questions. And enjoy this year with your daughter. It’s a big one for both of you.

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