A Must-Have College Visit Checklist

By Anathea Simpkins

High School
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For those families with students entering junior and senior year, there is no time like the summer to incorporate some college visits into the vacation itinerary or to schedule trips explicitly for this purpose.

When planning those college visits, there is a multitude of features to consider ─ some for students, some for parents, and some for both. The entire process can seem overwhelming. But it needn’t be, however, if families are armed with a checklist to help focus the visit. The college visit checklist below will help parents and students think about the important details and narrow the search when it comes time to submit those applications.


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The Basics

  • Take a tour of the campus
  • Participate in a group information session at the admissions office
  • Meet with an admissions officer
  • Pick up financial aid forms — meet with a financial aid officer, if possible


Take a Walk

  • Take a walk around the campus by yourself
  • Walk (or drive) around the community surrounding the campus


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Extracurricular Activities

  • Meet with coaches of sports you might participate in
  • Investigate clubs and other extracurricular activities that relate to academic or personal area of interest
  • Read the student newspaper
  • Seek out other student publications ─ department newsletters, literary reviews, etc.
  • Attend the college’s music, theater, film, or literary events


Eating and Sleeping

  • Spend a night in a dorm
  • Eat a meal in a school dining common
  • Eat at an on-campus restaurant or café
  • Check out alternative living arrangements: Greek life or off-campus housing


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Get Social

  • “Interview” students about why they chose the school or what they would improve about the school
  • Participate in a campus social event
  • Ask students what they do on weekends and during winter and summer breaks
  • Check out bulletin boards at an on-campus restaurant
  • Observe the student body in their daily campus life


Investigate Your Major

  • Speak with a professor in your chosen major or in a subject that interests you
  • Attend a class that interests you
  • Meet with the career office


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  • Imagine yourself attending the college for four years


Say Thank You

  • Send thank you notes to anyone you met with


Sylvan Learning’s college prep program can help you prepare for college in a variety of ways. From higher scores on the ACT and SAT to standout college application essays, we can help you get into the college of your dreams. To learn more about Sylvan’s college prep programs, visit sylvanlearning.com/prep

To help navigate the college admissions journey, The MONEY College Planner is another great resource. It can help you narrow the college search to find the best college for your money! Click here for more information.