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    9 Tips on Making the Most of Your College Visit

    Posted June 30, 2014, 3:00 pm by Elly Swartz
    9 Tips on Making the Most of Your College Visit

    You pile in the car with Mom, little brother, and a solid playlist to spend a few days visiting colleges on your list. By the time you leave College #1, you realize you should have mapped your route differently. Two hours later than anticipated, you arrive at College #2, and it’s pouring. You get out of the car in your sandals (no raincoat) just in time for the tour (despite your extended car ride), but the tour is full. You didn’t sign up ahead of time and the next one isn’t until tomorrow.

    I promise, there is a better way to make the most of your college visits.

    How to Make the Most of Your College Visit

    Sign-up ahead of time.

    Before you visit a college campus, go on the college’s website and sign up for a tour and information session. You can do this under the college’s admissions tab. It’s good to register for your visit so you don’t lose your opportunity to a full tour, and so the school has a record of your visit and thus, your interest.


    If the school offers interviews (it will say on the college site), definitely try and schedule one. This is a golden opportunity to be more than just a name on a manila folder.

    Keep track.

    When you visit the college, keep track of what you love (and hate) about each school, and be sure to get the names of your tour guide, the person giving your info session, and, of course, your interviewer.

    Pay particular attention to information gleaned from the visit, shared on the tour, or in the info session that cannot be culled from the website. This is great information to ultimately include in the Why X school essay.

    Log it.

    An easy way to keep track of all that information learned on your visit is to create a log on your phone. Type in all the relevant information, and then snap some pictures of the campus, the buildings, and the statues. You’ll be surprised how easily the schools seem to blur together after 10 visits.

    Thank-you notes.

    If you get an interview, a special department tour (physics/theatre/arts) or meet with a coach or music director, be sure to write a thank-you note when you return home. Gratitude is always appreciated.

    Dine in.

    While on the school visit, eat in the dining hall. You can get vouchers from the admissions office. You will be eating this food for four years and eating during your visit is a great way to know if the school has vegan options, great burgers, or gluten-free pasta. It’s also another way to get a feel for the school’s culture.

    The website.

    Be sure to spend a little time on the college’s website before you go on a tour or attend an info session. Learning a bit about the school ahead of time will give you a frame of reference while you are visiting.

    Road tripping.

    AAA Trip Tix is a great way to map out your college visits by car. With a drop down menu specifically designated to colleges, it makes planning much simpler.


    Check the weather before you head out on your college visits. If you are from Florida and are heading to Vermont in the middle of March, you’re going to want to know that you should pack snow boots, a winter coat, and your umbrella.

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    Elly Swartz

    Elly Swartz

    Elly Swartz is the founder of The Essay Adviser, a writer, a lawyer, and a former teacher of Legal Research and Writing at Boston University School of Law. Elly helps navigate the application process, and is dedicated to providing personalized application and essay advisory services for college, graduate school and independent secondary school through individual advising and group workshops.