Making the Most of College Campus Visits

Visiting college campuses? Here are some tips and campus visit questions to help you get the information you need to make a decision

Scheduling a college campus visit is an exciting milestone. Having narrowed down your list of schools, it’s now time to finalize where you will be applying. Visiting college campuses gives you the opportunity to ask questions and explore not only the available academic options, but also the campus culture and general feel, which can help you make your decision. Consider the following tips and campus visit questions when planning your trips to different schools. Take lots of photos and save your answers for each school so you can compile and compare them when you’re back at home.

Tips for setting up a college campus visit

  • Plan ahead: Most schools will suggest, if not require, an appointment for campus visits, which can be made through the admissions office. Schedule these visits far in advance to ensure your spot and try to spread out visits so you aren’t overwhelmed by consecutive weeks of college campus visits. This will also help your individual visits stand out more.

  • Have an itinerary: Though colleges will provide you with a tour, it might not include everything you personally want to see or do. Make appointments with the necessary administrators ahead of time and be sure to plan extra time to visit any of the facilities or parts of campus that are not included on the tour.

  • Stay overnight: If possible, visit while school is in session and try to schedule an overnight visit to get a feel for what the college experience will actually be like.

  • Come with questions: Since you'll probably be visiting more than one school, you'll need to be organized. Prior to your visit, research the schools online and see what others are saying on social media sites. Have a list of campus visit questions prepared ahead of time that includes general questions for all schools as well as niche thoughts about individual colleges.

What to do when visiting college campuses

Here are a few activities that can help you get the most out of your campus visit:

  • Sit in on a couple of classes.

  • Meet with a professor or two in your area of interest.

  • Meet with the coaching staff or athletic director if you’re considering pursuing sports.

  • Schedule a college interview with an admissions administrator.

  • Eat in one of the school dining halls.

  • Stop by the alumni office and ask for a list of recent graduates from your area whom you could arrange to call or meet once you’re back at home.

  • Visit the financial aid office and find out what to expect from them upon acceptance.

What to ask during your college campus visit

Though there are many factors to take into account when planning for college, the following campus visit questions are a great start when you’re trying to determine whether or not a college is right for you.

Questions to ask your tour guide on a campus visit

Tour guides are paid to know the ins and outs of the college, so they can be a great source for factual information about the school. They will cover a lot of basic information but will also leave time for questions, allowing you to dig deeper if they haven’t already answered what you need to know. Here is a list of questions you may want to use to help you better compare the schools you visit:

  • What is the first-year retention rate? Do most students return for a second year?

  • Do the majority of students graduate in four years?

  • Do most students live on campus or off campus? Are there restrictions about who can/must live on campus? How are students assigned to dorms?

  • What is the average size of an introductory class? Does it vary by major? Does it change as classes become more advanced?

  • Are there study abroad opportunities? Do many students take advantage of them?

  • Are there orientation activities to help first-year students get acclimated to the university?

  • What are the popular extracurricular activities? Are most students involved in one or more extracurricular activities?

  • Is Greek life prevalent on campus? If so, do many students choose to join fraternities and sororities freshman year?

  • Do students primarily walk to class? Does it make sense to bring a bike? Does the campus provide public transportation?

  • What is your favorite aspect of the school?

Questions to ask current students on a campus visit

Current students can be an excellent source of information when visiting a college campus as they may be more candid in their responses than tour guides, administrators and other employees of the college. Try to gather multiple opinions as everyone’s experiences differ and this can give you a broader perspective of campus life. Here are some questions to start the conversation:

  • Why did you choose this school?

  • What were your initial impressions? Were they accurate? If not, what was different from what you were expecting?

  • What was living on campus like? Do you have any tips for living in the dorms as a freshman?

  • Did you find it easy to make friends?

  • Do you find the student body to be diverse?

  • What do you do for fun after class? On the weekends?

  • Do your professors take an interest in your success?

  • How many of your classes are taught by a graduate assistant versus a professor?

  • Do you feel like your education is adequately preparing you for a career?

  • What is your overall opinion of the school?

After campus visits are over, start your applications and review financing options

Once you’ve finished visiting all the college campuses you’re considering, it’s time to start filling out applications and thinking about how to finance the costs of your chosen schools. In January of your senior year of high school, submit your FAFSA to see what federal aid is available to you. To cover any costs free aid such as scholarships and grants does not cover, review your options for student loans and consider a private student loan from Citizens Bank. To learn more about our affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan™ or if you have any other questions about financing a college education, contact a Student Lending Specialist, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

How and Where to Find Scholarships
Questions to Ask a College Tour Guide
Financial Aid Timeline
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