How to visit colleges


Lots of things have changed since the pandemic struck, and that includes the way your student searches for the right college. But one of the best ways for a student to decide if a college is right for them — the college visit tour — is still worth taking, even if it might look a little different now.

How should my student arrange a tour?

Your student can start figuring out what their college visit tours will look like based on two things: what the colleges they are interested in are offering, and what you and your student are comfortable with. Most colleges are offering virtual tours of campus and many are also offering in-person, socially distanced tours with fewer people than normal. 

If a college that your student has their eye on is offering only virtual tours, then that is their only (official) campus tour option. But as long as the campus is open, your student can go to campus and have a look around on their own if they wish. If a college offers virtual and in-person tours, your student should take a virtual tour first. If they still like the college after taking a virtual tour, and they are comfortable going in person, their next step should be to sign up for an in-person tour. The earlier they sign up, the better — most schools doing in-person tours are reducing the number of people allowed on a tour, so your student’s options could be more limited.

When should my student take a campus tour?

If it is a prerecorded tour, they can take an online tour when it’s convenient for them . If it’s a live virtual tour, they will probably have to register for a session, so they should do that as soon as they can. Your student should plan an in-person tour for a weekday, and preferably not a Friday. This is because they’ll want to get the most accurate picture of what campus is like, and many students arrange their schedules so that they don’t have Friday classes. (Can you say “long weekend?”) Plus, with all the students and faculty around, your student can start a conversation with someone who attends or teaches at the school to gain some further insight.

Any advice for when they’re on the in-person tour?

Your student might want to bring a way to take notes while on the tour. They’ll be getting lots of information and probably won’t remember all of it without writing it down. This is also an excellent opportunity to have all their questions answered, so they should be sure to take full advantage of it. Finally, they might want to get the contact info of someone they can follow up with if any questions come up after the tour is over.

Whether in-person or virtual, your student should take a tour. They are an invaluable tool while deciding on the right college.