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.
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?
- Spend time on the school’s website and learn more about the school and how it meets your unique interests and needs.
- Think about what is important to you in selecting a university.
- Research what programs of study are available at the university that may interest you.
- Print out and review the College Visit Checklist in preparation for your visit.
- 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.
- Take advantage of the resources for more than 140 college resources available at College Scoops.
- 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.
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 promptly receive an email with the checklist.
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
- Student Union
- Medical clinic
- Parking and parking passes
- Questions about student life
- Popular activities
- Campus life traditions
- Greek life
- 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
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.
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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I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.