10 college visiting tips

Bertina Xue, Arts Layout Editor

Amidst the many other responsibilities of high school juniors in the months leading up to applying for college is an important but often overlooked task: visiting the colleges themselves. According to guidance counselor Jeanette Lindor, these visits are important because they allow prospective students to get a good sense of the college while the school is in session. Here are some tips for those new to visiting colleges:

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  1. Sit in on a class

“If you care about class size then really try and get into a class to see if you like it,” senior Jen Xu said. According to Xu and senior Thea Hobson, visiting a class can give you a good feel of the college.

“If you visit a class, pay attention to whether you could be in that class or if you could learn in that class,” Hobson said. “More often than not it doesn’t need to be pre-arranged. Just go when classes are in session and the admissions office will tell you what you can do.”


  1. Talk to people besides the tour guides

According to senior Nica Kovalcik, talking to just the tour guides is not enough during a college visit.

“While you’re there, also try to ask people who aren’t the tour group guides questions,” Kovalcik said. “Even stopping to chat with someone will give you their honest opinion of what they think about the school and what they think the school could improve on or what the benefits are of going there. ”

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  1. Try to plan an overnight stay

According to Hobson, staying overnight at a college really gives insight on what it is like to live there.

“If you know someone who goes to the college, stay overnight with them if you can, or you can often sign up for that,” Hobson said. “That will really give you a good idea of whether you like living there or not.”

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  1. Pay attention to the atmosphere of the school

Senior Yeolim Jo said unexpected details could make or break a college.

“Even something like the weather could change stuff,” Jo said. “Pay attention to the vibe of the kids on campus too, and try to get a understanding of how you would be at the college. If they’re happy, you’d probably be happy too.”

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  1. Explore the website before your visit

Hobson said it is good preparation to go through the college’s website before you visit.

“You should definitely go through the website, especially if you’re going on a tour, because a lot of the questions you would ask on a tour are already answered there,” Hobson said.

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  1. Take notes during your visit

According to Lindor, taking notes during the visit is beneficial.

“Taking notes while the student is there allows them to compare with different schools later on,” Lindor said. “They might not remember everything if they don’t write it down.”


  1. Look for weaknesses at info sessions

According to senior Rachel Hechinger, colleges try to sugarcoat their weaknesses during info sessions.

“Whatever they say at info sessions that they really try to emphasize means that it’s really their weakness, because they try to cover it up that way,” Hechinger said.


  1.  Go on Admitted Students Day

Hobson said April vacation is a perfect time to visit colleges because that is usually when many of them  hold their admitted students day. Admitted Students Day is a day designed to familiarize first-year and transfer students with the school before the upcoming fall term.

“They thought I was an admitted student, and they sold me the college in a way that wasn’t like a tour,” Hobson said. “They gave me a free bag, a free sweatshirt. It made me really like the college. But you also just get to see more of the college because they’re teaching students about what they will be doing in college instead of saying why they’re better than other colleges.”

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  1. Ask atypical questions

Senior Gabrielle Guttormsen said that her favorite question to ask while on a college visit is, “What is your least favorite thing about the school?”

“You’ll often get a really honest answer, and I think it can be very enlightening as well,” Guttormsen said.


10.  Colleges consider how interested you are in them

According to Lindor, colleges keep track of students’ visits along with the application.

“It’s a way to show the college how interested you are,” Lindor said. “So for a school like Boston University, a student here that’s applying should definitely visit because the school is going to wonder why they didn’t visit even if they’re right down the street. Obviously schools that are further away like in California or even D.C. might be harder for a student to get to, so the college wouldn’t necessarily question why a student from here who has applied didn’t visit.”

Graphics by Leon Yang

Bertina Xue can be contacted at [email protected]