Take the campus tour.
This will provide a good initial overview of the school, and tours are generally led by a current student. This is a great time to ask questions.
Attend an information session, if offered.
Colleges often offer an information session, separate from the campus tour. These are typically given or overseen by a member of the admissions staff, and provide an overview of academic and extracurricular programs, as well as admissions, financial aid and application options and deadlines.
Have an admissions interview.
Some colleges offer admissions interviews to prospective students, ranging from “informational” to “evaluative.” Check options in advance, and make an appointment if necessary. Come prepared to talk about yourself and ask questions.
Allow enough time for a meal on campus.
You may eat thousands of meals on campus during your years at college, so be sure to check out the dining options.
Pack a notebook.
Jot down general impressions, specific information and questions to ask during each visit. This will help you as you reflect on your trips and decide where you would like to apply for admission. It can also help with your admission applications and interviews. Some colleges will ask, for example, “Why are you interested in attending our college?”
Spend some time in the surrounding area.
How accessible and safe is the surrounding area? Does the college provide any transportation options? What is available in terms of athletics, outdoor activities, community service and internships? What about arts, restaurants and shopping?
Meet with a faculty member, coach or activity director.
This can be an excellent way to learn more about a particular school’s academic, athletic and extracurricular programs — which is especially important for students with a strong interest in a particular area. Make sure to reach out in advance of your visit to schedule an appointment.
Scott Steinberg is the dean of University Admissions at the University of New England, with responsibility for undergraduate and graduate admissions. He has held admissions leadership positions at Bates College, Bowdoin College and the University of Southern Maine. He earned his M.B.A. from Columbia University, Graduate School of Business, and a B.A. in mathematics and music from Bates College.