7 Things NOT to Do When Visiting Colleges

There are many things we suggest for you to do when visiting colleges. See your dorm room, talk to current students, make sure they offer your desired major and more—really the possibilities are endless. But because it can also be an overwhelming experience. Don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of several things you should not do. This way, after visiting colleges, you will be able to easily decide which one is best suited for you.

Here's some college advice on what NOT to do on a campus visit.

Flickr user Penn State

7 Do-Nots of Visiting Colleges

1. Do Not Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Whether your questions are directed at the student tour guides, college advisors, professors, or current students, they’re gonna be good, worthwhile questions. It’s important to get a good feel for student life when you’re visiting colleges. That means you have to ask your questions, get opinions, and talk to people who live, work, and learn in that environment. College affects your whole life so learning about the community as well as the academic situation will help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.

Sallie Mae logo.

3 Repayment Options

Variable rates from 5.37% - 15.70% APR with auto-debit

Learn More

2. Do Not Explore Only “Your” Part Of Campus

If you have a strong feeling about what your college major will be, awesome. You definitely want to explore the buildings dedicated to your field because you will spend a good amount of time there. Honestly, we encourage you to take the opportunity to thoroughly look around while visiting colleges. 

But between general education courses, electives, and possibly switching majors, you should take the time to learn about the rest of the campus, too. Where are the best places to study? Where are the bigger lecture halls? Most importantly, how do you get there?

With some smaller campuses, it may not be as hard to navigate, but it’s still important to know how long it takes to get to different buildings, especially if crossing the campus takes fifteen minutes. Carve out some extra time while visiting colleges to take it all in and walk around more. You can do this on your own or during your official campus tour!

3. Do Not Be Disrespectful

If you’re going on several college visits, be mindful. While asking questions is good and helpful, try to make sure you don’t come across as complaining or making a big deal if you are comparing/contrasting one college with another is something to shy away from.

Negativity can color people’s experiences or give them a bad association with something. And you don’t want to be the person whose negativity prevented someone else from choosing a school that was actually a great fit for them. Each institution has its own charm. While it may not be for everyone, that doesn’t mean you have to say negative things about it!

4. Do Not Get Wrapped Up Solely in the Social Scene

Making friends and having fun are important parts of college. After all, “all work and no play” is not good for your overall health. So while you make sure you like the social scene of a college, you should also make sure to dedicate a good amount of time to focusing on the education aspect during your visit.

Just because your best friend is super excited about a school doesn’t mean you have to be. And even though all your high school friends may go to one school doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. Basing your decision on other people may lead you somewhere you weren’t supposed to end up. This is a great time in your life to branch out, so keep that in mind while you’re visiting colleges.

5. Do Not Go in Blind

Do a little research before visiting colleges. Research about a college’s academic programs can help shape the questions you ask during your visit. Does it have your intended majors? What’s the school’s/department’s approach to a subject (i.e., is it more theoretical or practical, intensive analysis, lab hours, studio hours, etc.)? Does your prospective major have classes to support your intended career path (i.e., creative writing within an English major, various engineering tracks, specialization in categories or subfields, and so on)?

6. Do Not Lack A Purpose For Your Visit

 Is this a see-if-I’m-interested visit? A should-I-apply-here visit? Or maybe an I’m-making-my-decision-soon-having-been-accepted visit? These examples will influence what questions you ask. Having a purpose for your visit will also mean the expense won’t be a waste of your time.

7. Do Not Forget To Write Things Down

College tours are full of information so it can be easy to forget what you learned on each visit. Create a list of information about each college so you can compare them all fairly. You can compare the residence halls, admissions process, local area outside of the school, available resources, and other things after each campus visit. A handy college visit checklist will ensure you’re making a sound and informed decision on which college is best for you. 

Visiting colleges is exciting because you can begin to imagine yourself on the campus, making friends, and going to classes. Use the time spent on each visit wisely so that you can choose which school is the best all-around fit. 

If you’re still looking for colleges to tour, use the College Match tool from College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the U.S.—for FREE!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.