Visiting colleges can be an important part of the decision-making process. It is ideal to see a school and get a sense of the campus prior to applying. A visit may give a student the opportunity to participate in group information sessions, interview, take a tour, meet students, spend the night in a dorm, and talk with faculty members and/or coaches. Interviews can be a helpful part of the college application process. An interview is an opportunity to learn more about a school and to make a connection with the admissions office. At the same time, the school has a chance to get to know the student in a way that goes beyond the paperwork. It is worth noting that many colleges do not offer interviews. Students should check individual college’s websites to see whether, when, where, and how interviews may be scheduled.
Visits vary, from the formal to the casual, and these days, most colleges offer virtual opportunities to explore the campus as well. Families may want to start with virtual visits or informal visits to local schools, just to get a sense of different kinds of campuses. A student who is serious about a particular college will want to schedule a more official visit, which will probably include a campus tour and an interview.
Families often begin visiting schools during the junior year. It is a good idea to visit while classes are in session to get the fullest picture of the college. That said, visiting when school is not in session is still better than no visit at all.
It is worth calling prior to any visit to schedule tours, ask about interviews, and start to form a relationship with the admissions office. Please note that not all schools offer on-campus interviews, and those that do tend to fill up far in advance.
Schools usually offer information sessions and tours to visiting students. For a fuller sense of the school, visiting families and students may want to:
Most schools now offer virtual campus visits, tours, and information sessions. Some provide self-guided virtual tours, while others provide a live or recorded tour of the campus. Regardless of the type of tour, students should take notes as they tour the campus. These notes can be helpful as students develop questions to ask a college representative during interviews and information sessions; they can also be useful later on in the application process when it is time to respond to school specific supplemental questions.
Asking questions should be a primary focus of any college visit. Families should start with the admissions office staff. Student tour guides will usually answer with a bit more candor, but may have a narrower perspective.
Families should also feel free to stop a student or faculty member on campus and ask questions. These individuals will often give very helpful information.
Possible questions include:
The candidate meets with a member of the admissions staff or with a trained student or alumnus/alumna. This interview may take place on or off campus or on Zoom. A record of the interview becomes part of the application folder.
The candidate meets with a member of the admissions staff or a student, usually on campus or via Zoom, to obtain information about the school. The interview does not become part of the application folder.