Are you feeling overwhelmed by having to decide which colleges would be best to visit? Fear not! In part two of our step-by-step guide to Crafting Your College List, we will help you narrow down a list of schools for you to research further, and then visit, either in-person or virtually. Visiting a college is a valuable experience to determine if it is the right place for you to continue your educational journey. After more than a year with extremely limited access to in-person tours, universities across the nation have reopened for on-campus visits.

Schools have incorporated enhanced safety protocols so that prospective students can experience all the unique features that their campuses have to offer. For example, Boston College requires their guests to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival to campus, and does not accept a negative PCR result at this time. NYU has the same proof of vaccination guideline in place, as well as a booster if you are eligible. To keep their in-person tours small, NYU is also offering a Mobile NYU Guided Tour which allows prospective students to take a self-guided tour of their Washington Square Campus using a special “NYU Campus Tour App.”

Research Your Colleges

Start by researching colleges online so that you can get a feel for what the school has to offer. Check out colleges’ websites: read about their academic programs, extracurricular activities, and college culture. In addition, there is a wealth of virtual resources available online from third-party organizations. Some of our favorites are CampusReelCollege ScoopsYOUniversityTV, and YouVisit. These sites, and countless others, offer a variety of different approaches to the college search with detailed video content and ways to hear from actual students at the schools. Ask yourself, “Can I picture myself at this school?”

Plan Your Visits

Once you have gathered information about universities, plan your visits. Admissions events can be held virtually or in-person. Register for an information session with admissions staff or student ambassadors either online or on campus. Some schools offer live virtual sessions, which provide an opportunity to interact directly with people from the school, while others have pre-recorded sessions that you can watch on your own time. Make sure to register for admissions events, as many schools track this as demonstrated interest. All these admissions events will get you one step closer to figuring out if the school is a good match for you.

Being on campus gives you a unique glimpse into what life would be like for you at this school. Try to make the most of your trip and plan to visit other nearby campuses. Many major metro areas are home to multiple colleges and universities.

Make the Most of In-Person College Visits

Here’s how to make the most of your college visits:

  • Register in advance for a tour and information session.
  • Collect helpful paperwork, such as financial aid information and a campus map.
  • Visit campus facilities that are important to you, including the dining hall, fitness center, library, and dorms.
  • Speak with students on campus to get a feel for the school community. Don’t be afraid to ask current students questions you may have.
  • Arrange meetings with professors in your fields of interest. Ask them why they chose to teach at the college and how they would describe the student body.
  • Meet with staff in specialized offices, such as honors programs or learning centers.
  • Explore the community around the campus.
  • Take notes during or after your visit. What were the features that are a good match for you? What aspects did you not like about the college?
  • Write thank you emails to all the college staff you meet, including admissions officers and faculty, as soon as possible after your visit.

Senior year is a hectic time, jam-packed with exciting events. Before you know it, it will be time to make your college decision. Therefore, it is important to try and schedule visits prior to your senior year. According to the CollegeBoard, the spring of junior year is an ideal time to visit campuses for potential students. At Collegiate Gateway, we feel that it’s best to spread your college visits over your entire junior year so that you can be reflective about the process and continually incorporate your feedback from visits as you develop your college list.

Whether you can get to know a college through virtual exploration, or an in-person visit, you will start to see your preferences emerge more clearly with each visit, and your list of potential colleges will come into focus.

Up next is part three of our blog series, Crafting Your College List: Balancing Your List from Reach to Realistic, where we discuss how to develop the best possible college list for your interests and preferences. For part one of our blog series, Crafting Your College List: Best-Fit College Features, click here.

For more guidance, explore our upcoming presentations on our website or set up a complimentary consultation to learn about our admissions consulting services.

Whatever your question, Collegiate Gateway is happy to help you navigate this exciting process!