College Visits: When, Where and How to Visit

college visits

Towards the end of your junior year and into your senior year you’re going to notice a lot of people visiting different universities they’re interested in.

You may be asking how many college visits should I go on, when to go and where to go? The answer all depends on you and your parents. Visiting colleges is time-consuming and can be costly if you need to travel. I would pick your top 5 to 10 colleges then decide on the 5 you want to visit. You should start visiting schools in your junior year of high school.

You may visit 5 colleges on the top of your list and if you did not have a clear winner then maybe you need to visit a few more.

Typically, you will visit around 5 colleges that you’re interested in.

One of my best friends in high school chose her college even though she had never even actually seen the University. Of course, she ended up loving it and it didn’t matter in the long run, but for my OCD self, I couldn’t believe that she had chosen a college that she did not visit.

This is what I mean by the fact that is different for every person.

Other people I know went on 10 college visits and then ended up choosing the first college that they went to see.

Some of my friends couldn’t decide so they kept going back to their two top choices until they could make a final decision. Obviously, no right or wrong answer to how many times you should go on college visits to the same university, or how many colleges you should go to visit in general.

But, my rule of thumb is going to be that you can never go on too many visits. You do not want to go to a college you do not like. Believe me, not every college visit is going to be like you see in the movies. You might go and simply realize that you don’t like it at all.

The very first college visit that I went on my junior year, after about 25 minutes I knew that I wasn’t going to attend that university. I know it is very different for each person, but I wanted to give you some tips on college visits based on what I did.

In high school your junior and senior year this is going to be a hot topic. Many of your friends will probably be talking about their college visits. Your teachers may be asking what colleges you are looking into and what colleges you’ve seen. You are also going to have family who will want to talk about it when they see you.

So, here are my personal tips about going on college visits that I’ve gained from not only my own experience but my friends and people close to me as well.

First Look at a College in Person

Your first look at an actual university is always interesting. You’ve been talking about going to college for years and doing your research and applying to all these places. Now you are at your first college visit where the rubber meets the road. The perception of college in film and books is a lot different than when you are there in person.

The movies dramatize everything, and they might even make everything look a little bit fancier than things might really be in college.

Many universities now offer an online tour of the college so it is basically a virtual tour of the university. This is nice because it gives you a general understanding of what the university looks like and what you should expect. But obviously you don’t really get to see the inside of any classrooms and of course, it’s just different when you see it in real life versus online.

Now, if you’re applying to somewhere that’s far away and you don’t think you’re going to be able to make it in person. Then your best bet is to do the virtual tour online.

On my university visits, I just felt a lot different about the colleges and universities after I saw them in person than when I first looked them up online.  

I would advise you to at least book a trip to your top three or four colleges. If you decide early on that you really like a certain college then go, there first. You need to make sure you visit the top 3 to 5 universities on your list just in case you do not get accepted in the first few that you picked.

Deciding where to go to College

If you’re anything like me, you might think about things way too much and become very indecisive. Many students want to go look at a university before deciding on if they want to go there. Going on a college visit is definitely a good idea for most students.

I personally went on about six college visits.

Personally, I just wanted to keep my options open and make sure that I was making the best choice. However, after I attended the college that I am attending today, I skipped the second visit at a different university that I had that same day.

The trip was comical.

I pulled into the second university with my mom we looked around at each other and we both kind of said: “Do you want to just go home?”.

I guess that was my way of telling myself that I ultimately knew I was going to end up at the University I just visited. Now when I look back at it it’s pretty funny and I had already made my decision.

When Should you go on a College Visit

Most students go in the summer of their senior year but some will go at the end of their junior year. This all depends on the universities you are visiting and when they have the tours.

How do you Schedule a College Visit

You want to have your list of top 5 schools and find out when they have their tours.

  1. Choose the schools and contact them about dates and times.
  2. Set the date to take the tours. You will need to call the university to get on the official tours, to interview admissions, talk to coaches or professors.
  3. Visit some closer colleges first to get a sense of the process. Make sure you have an itinerary for the visits.
  4. Put together the basic questions you want to ask on the tours.
  5. If the university is out of state then make travel arrangements.
  6. Have fun visiting the different college campuses.

You can check out Ohio State Universities visit and tour page on the website. The web page shows you where you can sign up for tours and campus visits. Most colleges should have the same thing on their website. Just search for “name of college” tours.

Reassurance, Please Stay Calm

There are so many different things to think about and plan after you’ve chosen the university that you’re going to attend. You may be asking yourself things like “Am I going to be able to get around and find my classrooms?”, “What does the gym look like?”, “What do the buildings for my specific major or college look like?”, and “Are there nice places to study?”.

These questions are all normal.

Personally, I think that the more visits that you go on to your top universities the better you will feel. I know you’re not going to go to a university six or seven times before you attend.

I went on my first two college visits the winter of my senior year in high school. And then I went on a major tour the spring of my senior year after I had already declared that I was going to that university.

Most colleges also have an accepted students’ day which means that it’s a day for all the accepted students to come and visit again. It was a good thing that I ended up going on my second tour at that university. The reason was that after going on a major-specific tour I decided to change my major.

It was that day and the conversations that happened made me realize that I needed to change majors.

The first major selection I was basically peer pressured into doing it because I was good at science and math. The major-specific tour that I had was an engineering tour so after that tour day I called and change myself to undecided.

It took me several months of debating, researching, and thinking until I declared my major to be accounting in the school of business. However, none of this would’ve happened (or maybe would’ve happened too late), had I not gone on the major specific tour the spring of my high school senior year.

I think it just helps to see the university that you chose a few times if possible. You’re going to be living at that university for the fort next four years so you might as well get used to it. And this also gives you more time to prepare and better know what to expect when you get there.

Overall, it never hurts to go on as many college visits as is needed. It is ok to just simply want to compare campuses of your top college choices in order to make the best decision.

Location of the college will be an important factor so check out why is the location of a college important.


I may sound like a broken record, but you are going to be living at the university you picked for the next four years of your life. You need to make sure it’s the right choice for you.

You need to make sure that you’re going to be living in a place that you enjoy and like the campus. The campus is not only for your education, but it’s also your home.

Don’t regret the fact that I went on a lot of college visits or that I’ve visited my now University twice. Overall, it helped my decision and help me get to where I am today.

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