When to Visit Colleges

Visiting a college campus allows you to experience the campus atmosphere firsthand, interact with current students, and gain valuable insights into the college's academic programs and extracurricular offerings. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your visits.

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How to Schedule Your Campus Visits

Visiting a college campus is one of the most exciting steps in choosing a college. It’s best to visit colleges before your applications are due. That way, you can be confident you'd be happy at any college you're applying to.

It's also best to go when the college is in session. You'll see the campus when classes are meeting and day-to-day activities are in full swing.

How to Pick a Date

Here are some guidelines on when to visit. Plan your visit well ahead of time. That way you can make sure you see what you need to see and meet with the people who can tell you what you need to know.

During the Week

Mondays through Thursdays are ideal for visits because you can get a good idea of what campus life is like. Visiting on a Friday may not be as practical. Students, faculty, and staff might be busy with social activities starting Friday afternoon.

High school holidays that fall on Mondays are often perfect opportunities for making college visits. Many colleges are in session on these days─and you won't be missing any of your high school classes.

The Best Seasons

The spring of your junior year is a good time if you've already researched colleges. Spring break is also good if you play fall sports or are considering applying under early action or early decision plans, which usually have application deadlines in November of your senior year.

Early fall is also a good time for seniors to visit. That timing can help seniors narrow their college lists.

After You've Been Accepted

Colleges where you've been accepted might invite you to spend a few days on campus before the May 1 reply date. Many schools do this to encourage students they've accepted to enroll. This is an excellent opportunity to make in-depth comparisons between the colleges that have accepted you. If possible, visit with current students who attended your high school.

However, if you're waiting to visit colleges after you've received acceptance letters, remember that you may have only a few weeks to visit and decide. Most colleges mail acceptance letters in April and expect a reply by May 1.

When Not to Go

Check specific dates with each college so you don't arrive when the campus is deserted. You can call the college or look on its website for the academic calendar to find out when breaks, reading periods, and exam periods are scheduled.

Colleges are not in session during:

  • Thanksgiving weekend
  • Christmas week
  • Winter and spring breaks
  • Summer, unless there is a summer session

College classes don’t meet during:

  • Reading period
  • Exam weeks
  • Saturdays and Sundays

The admission office may be closed to visitors at certain times. For example, admission officers may be too busy to meet with you in May and April — that’s when they’re reviewing applications. Check with the college.

Adapted from Campus Visits and College Interviews by Zola Dincin Schneider.

FAQ

When is the best time to visit colleges?

The best time to visit colleges depends on individual preferences, but typically, spring and fall are popular seasons for campus visits. In spring, you can witness campuses come to life with blooming flowers and vibrant energy. At the same time, fall offers the opportunity to experience the start of a new academic year and the excitement of campus activities. By choosing these seasons, prospective students can immerse themselves in the college atmosphere and gain valuable insights into campus life.

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What’s the best time to schedule an individual campus visit?

Schedule an individual campus visit during weekdays when classes are in session, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the campus atmosphere and get a firsthand experience of student life. Interacting with current students, attending classes, and exploring campus facilities during these times can provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about the college.

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How many college visits should I make?

The number of college visits can vary based on individual circumstances, such as the number of colleges you're considering and your availability. However, you’ll want to visit a handful of colleges that align with your interests and goals. This can help you make a well-informed decision about your future education.

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At what grade level should I start visiting colleges?

Generally, it’s recommended to start visiting colleges during your junior or senior year of high school. By then you should have a clearer idea of your interests and goals. The college visits will be more purposeful and allow you to assess how well each college aligns with your academic and personal goals.

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