As you start thinking about visiting schools over your upcoming spring break, remember that the months of March and April are among the most popular times for campus tours and information sessions. If you are a sophomore or a junior, start getting some dates on your calendar before slots fill up.

Visiting schools is an essential part of the college application process. While there is a wealth of information available on the internet, that resource alone will not give you a full sense for the university and the town in which it is situate. Only by visiting can you walk the grounds, converse face-to-face with current students, grab a cup of coffee at the student union, and stroll through the college town. A school may look very appealing from its website, but its profile “on paper” may be very different from your real-time reaction to that school. So as you plan your trips, remember to allot sufficient time at each school for both the campus tour and the information session. Spend at least two hours at each school rather than speeding through your visits. If you plan well, you can usually hit two schools in one day.

Campus Tours:
Campus tours, led by current students, usually last between 45 and 75 minutes. Walking around the school grounds allows you to get the lay of the land. Typical stops include student unions, libraries, residential dorms, dining facilities, academic quads, and arts and athletic facilities. Students are more than happy to take your questions, however in my experience, parents do most of the talking. If you prefer not to ask your question while on your tour, be sure to get the guide’s email address so that you can communicate with him/her at a later time. Students are extremely helpful, provide current information, and can put you in touch with others who also may be helpful to you.

Information Sessions:
Information sessions, led by admissions officers, also last anywhere from 45-75 minutes. Take notes during these presentations, because admissions officers usually walk you through what they are looking for, often providing great specificity. Though you may believe you will recall what you have heard when it comes time to sit down and write your essays, trust me, you will not. Keep a notebook containing all of your notes from college visits. Refer back to it when writing your supplemental essays.

For more tips on making the most of your college visits and answers to your questions, please contact