Every college visit should have at least two dimensions—formal and informal—notes Janet Schneider, director of college counseling at the University School of Nashville (TN). To cover both dimensions, begin your planning with the following checklist. And to make sure you get to see everything you need to, don't forget to call the college ahead of time and schedule your visit!


  • Take a campus tour
  • Have an interview with admission officer
  • Participate in group information session at the admission office
  • Sit in on a class (or two!)
  • Talk to a professor (or two) in your chosen major(s)
  • Talk to a coach in your chosen sport
  • Talk to a student or counselor in the career center
  • Spend the night in the dorm with a current student


  • Read the student newspaper—even the ads
  • Try to find other student publications—department newsletters, 'alternative' newspapers, literary reviews
  • Eat in the cafeteria
  • Ask a student why he/she chose this college
  • Wander around the campus by yourself
  • Search for your favorite book in the library
  • Read the bulletin boards in the student union
  • Ask a student what he/she hates about the college
  • Browse in the college bookstore
  • Read the bulletin boards in the academic department you're interested in
  • Eavesdrop on students to hear what the're talking—or complaining—about
  • Ask a student what he/she loves about the college
  • Surf the Net in the student computer center
  • Walk or drive around the community surrounding the campus
  • Ask a student what he/she does on weekends
  • Listen to the college's radio station
  • Try to see a dorm that you didn't see on the tour
  • See if you can imagine yourself at this college