Make the most of your campus visits! 

…sure, you deserve a break! Go to the beach. Vacation a little.

If your home all break, sleep in a little.

You can hang out on the couch, playing video games until dinner.  Eat, then nap a little more.

But I’m willing to bet it gets a little boring as break goes on.

Well make the most of it!

Make a list of your top 3 colleges. Below is a list of the types of higher education institutions. From your list, make the calls to the school’s admissions department to schedule an appointment.

  • Just tell them you are interested in a campus tour. No formal meeting yet. Unless you are certain that this school is your choice.

But always know that you can never make a good decision, or the right decision unless you have at least 3 things to choose from. The more information you have to make your decision, the better.

It doesn’t have to be hard, just more information to choose from.

Below is a list so things to consider and prepare yourself for.

First follow these steps BEFORE scheduling and considering college visits:

  • If your planning to visit a school during your own school hours, check with your guidance department to see if they allow you to take excused absence from school
  • Make a list of schools that you are most interested in. Remember that there are four main types of higher education institutions:                                                                                                                                                                        

Vocational schools that teach specific technical/Career specific degrees                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Public institutions like state universities and colleges                                                                                                     

Community/junior colleges                                                                                                                                                           

Private colleges

There is no preference of the type, unless it matches with your career interests. Once you selected 3-4 colleges, then you begin the process of visiting and checking them out.

If you are just looking at schools, and not wanting to speak with anyone yet, just plan a CAMPUS VISIT.  This allows you to check things out and get a feel for it too. If you are looking at colleges AWAY from home, where you will live, then I suggest you stay at the school overnight to experience its environment for a short time.

These steps below will give you the best and most effective visit for a school. If you follow this list, you will be able to make a more educated decision that will definitely benefit you.

Now, this list is somewhat comprehensive. Some of this might not be necessary for you, depending on the type of school, but make the most of it.

The worst thing you can do is to start attending a college, and wanting to leave after the first semester or year. I would say about 30-40% of college students change their minds with regard to careers and/or college.


…buy a day planner/calendar. Either purchase one at the college bookstore, or purchase one with which you can most comfortably work. You will need to know dates and be aware of due dates, deadlines and everything else through the school year. Remember to purchase an ACADEMIC YEAR, or SCHOOL YEAR calendar. A calendar that starts in July or August and ends in June or July of the following year. This makes it easier for you to follow by the dates, based on your school year start and end dates.


  • Take a campus tour (contact admissions office)
  • Have an interview with an admissions officer (call admissions office)
  • Get business cards and names of people you meet for future contacts (preferably admissions, financial aid person, teachers or faculty you meet, career/student services, student activities, etc.)
  • Pick up any and all financial aid forms (financial aid office) (www.fafsa.gov)
  • Ask for any scholarships, grants or work-study opportunities that are available for you. What are the requirements?
  • Sit in on a class of a subject that interests you (don’t feel embarrassed or weird about this…its good advice!)
  • Talk to a professor in your chosen major or in a subject that interests you (get his/her business card or email!)  (See my posts @ http://wp.me/pAKTs-1M and @  http://wp.me/pAKTs-28 for ways to find your chosen career).
  • Find out what types of classes would be taken with your chosen degree(s)
  • Talk to coaches of sports in which you might participate
  • Talk to leaders, advisors, or other staff involved in extracurricular activities (for example Student Activities Director, Student Government, Christian organizations, ethnically focused activities, etc.)
  • Talk to a student or counselor in the career center (Career Services office)
  • Spend the night in a dorm
  • Read the student newspaper (try to find other student publications—department newsletters, alternative newspapers, literary reviews)
  • Scan bulletin boards to see what day-to-day student life is like (go to student union, student services center, recreation center)
  • Check out what kinds of student activities and organizations there are that you can get involved in
  • Do you want to belong to a greek organization? Black Student Union? International House? Dormitory life?
  • Eat in the cafeteria (yes eat their food.  if you go here, you’ll have to)
  • Ask students why they chose the college (most of the time, you will meet other student “ambassadors” that will guide you with this) 
  • Wander around the campus by yourself(look for kiosks, events, walk around the quad or main student center)
  • Ask other students what they hate about college
  • Ask other students what they love about college
  • Browse the college bookstore (usually the same spot, or near the student union)
  • Walk or drive around the community surrounding the campus (look for the stores, restaurants, fast food, bars, etc.)
  • Find out what all goes on during the weekends
  • Listen to the college’s radio station
  • Try to see a dorm that you didn’t see on the tour
  • Can you imagine yourself attending this college for 2 or 4 years?

Take notes!  I know you hate this, but at least bring a bag and use that to put stuff in it.  Pick up anything that can help you to make the best decision.  Take a folder, pens, pencils and your own contact info like address, email and telephone #. 


…you have to start making decisions that will affect you directly.  Sure mom and dad can help, but don’t make them doo everything.

You will be proud of what you can accomplish!  Trust me. 🙂


…what else are you wondering about with regard to colleges in general and college visits. Did I make a complete list? Are you wondering what else there is to find out.

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My success is your success,

Keith Lipke


 Keith Lipke is a careers and college recruiter, coach, mentor and blogger at     The Hope Chest. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college.