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Visit a College Without Stepping on Campus

What if you can’t make the college tour? Here’s how to visit a college without stepping on campus.

Setting foot on campus is always a good idea, but it’s often not practical. Trying to fit in college campus visits around a busy family schedule including working parents, student class work, and extracurricular projects can be a daunting task. And there’s the cost of driving or flying to all those colleges. Fortunately, you can get a feel for a college from afar. And this may help you weed out schools so that you’re not wasting your time or your money on later in-person visits or application fees.

  • Visit virtually. Go online and you’ll find everything from YouTube videos featuring real students to photo tours of the campus.
  • Look at student newspapers. You’ll find out what students consider important and how they like to have fun.
  • Ask about local interviews. Contact the college admissions office to find out if you can interview a local alumnus, a current student home on break, or a regional college representative.
  • Talk to college representatives. Ask your counselor or visit college websites to find out how to contact local admissions reps for colleges you are interested in. They can answer your questions and help you better understand whether you are a good fit to the college. Many reps do presentations at high schools. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself.
  • Attend college fairs. Colleges also send reps to college fairs to meet students and parents and introduce them to their college. If you prepare your questions in advance, you can find out a great deal about specific colleges in just a few hours. See Why Attend College Fairs? to learn how to have a productive experience.
  • Welcome college mailings. Want to receive information about a college by mail or e-mail? You can sign up for its mailing list in seconds in the admissions section of the college’s website. Every time you receive material, scan it for new information and visuals of the college. (To minimize clogging up your regular email account, it’s best to set up an email address just for your college search).

The research is worth it.

The more you know about the colleges you are considering, the more likely you are to make good choices about where to apply — and where to attend. Too often families are flying blind and choosing a school based on emotional factors or anonymous rankings found in magazines or online. If you can select the right school – one that fits your learning style, academic or career interests, and budget, you’ll save a lot more than money. You’ll save time. Because changing schools or majors later after you discover that the school was not the “right” fit will end up costing you more time as you need to take classes that won’t transfer over for instance. All of this time also costs money as you’ll need to take more out of savings, cash flow or loans.

Don’t turn this into the “seven year plan” for an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. Plan ahead and you’ll be better prepared to find the right school at the right price.

What’s Next?

  • Search for colleges using College Match and review their College Profiles. There, you can view their YouTube channels and see a great deal of information that will help you visualize the college, such as size, weather, sports programs, and setting.