The first impression a college has on you is going to significantly impact your decision making when it comes down to a few schools to choose from at the end of the school year. It's important that you go into visiting colleges with the right mindset, and that you do it the right way. Here's how to visit colleges, the right way.
Take a Tour and Ask Questions
Firstly, you should schedule a tour with the admissions office. They will show you around campus, pointing out the best parts of campus, including the libraries, dorms, classrooms and the student union building. Formulate questions before you get there based off the college website or just questions you have in general, and ask your tour guide.
Go During a Busy Time
It might be tempting to visit colleges during your breaks from school or over the summer, but it isn't realistic. You'll see a dead campus, rather than seeing it in it's full glory, full of college students running about.
Explore the Area Around the College
The town the college sits in isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but it can add to a college's atmosphere, or take away from it. I go to Boise State, which sits in a moderately sized city and is close to downtown. 45 minutes away we have the College of Idaho, which sits on a gorgeous campus with awesome programs, but the town surrounding it (Caldwell) isn't the nicest part of southeastern Idaho. Getting a feel for how safe you'll be around campus, as well as what there is to do off campus can be influential on your final decision.
Try and See the Inside of a Dorm
If you can see inside the dorm you're considering, that's even better, but getting an idea of what the inside of some of the dorms look like can be awesome. Some schools are super old and have really old dorms, which you may like or may not. Some schools are newer and have newer dorms, or they've been updated, and that may influence your decision also.
Talk To Strangers
If you aren't riddled with social anxiety like I am, it's a great idea to ask people you see at the school how they like the school. Warning: don't do this during finals week, because more likely than not people will be a little more upset with their school than during a regular week.
Keep a Journal
After you visit each school that's on your list of colleges, keeping a journal with your feelings directly after you visit can be really helpful six months or a year down the line when you have to make a final decision. You won't remember everything, so it's important that you write down everything you can directly after a tour or visit.
Thanks for reading!