Should you visit a college?  Absolutely!  The best time to visit is before you apply for admissions, perhaps ski week or spring break.  If this is not possible, then you should visit the colleges that accepted you before you decide on where you will attend college.


    Do not assume that there is only one right college for you. One of the joys of American higher education is the tremendous breadth and variety in the type, size and location of colleges. There are more than 3,000 two- and four-year colleges in the United States and you would be very happy and receive an excellent education at many of them.  Always remember that you must look for a good “match” between the opportunities provided by the college and your own personal style, interests and needs.


    Ask Yourself These Questions:

    1.  Does the college have the academic programs I want? For example, does it have study abroad opportunities, athletics, internships or research opportunities? 

    2.      Have I met the admission requirements for the schools I am considering?

    3.      How much can I afford to spend for an education?

    4.      What type of school do I want? 

    ·         State or private institution

    ·         Large university or small college

    5.      Do I want to go away to college? How far?

    6.      Do I want an urban or rural setting?

    7.      How diverse is the student body?

    8.      What are the opportunities for academic and social contact with students and faculty?

    9.      Are housing accommodations readily available on or near the campus?

    10.  What are the extra-curricular activities and social life potentials?

    11.  Are there adequate facilities to accommodate my interests?

    12.  How competitive is the admissions policy?

    13.  Does the college have a sports program that fits my needs?



    You are encouraged to consider the following steps in organizing your visit:

    • Select four or five colleges that interest you.  Your interest may be based on several different factors … geographical location, student body size, academic majors, sports programs, family background, financial cost, talking with a college representative, reading the catalog or hearing what a friend things about the college.
    • Do your homework before you visit.  The College & Career Center has a good deal of information about colleges and other resources for your use.  Look at the college website/catalog/resource guides to find out basic information about student population, academic programs, admissions requirements, tuition costs and housing arrangements.  You should know some basic factual information before your visit so you can ask more important questions during your visit.
    • Visit a local college first.  Before you spend time and money traveling to a distant campus, you should visit a local college.  There are many colleges in the Bay Area where you could take a one day trip and practice your visiting skills.  (For example: Dominican, UC Berkeley, College of Marin, Sonoma State, Santa Rosa City College, USF, St Mary's, San Francisco State, San Francisco City College, UC Santa Cruz)
    • Find someone to share your college visits.  You are encouraged to travel with a friend who is also involved in planning for college.  You should be able to help each other ask questions during the visit and share your reactions after you leave the campus.
    • Try to visit while college students are on campus.  You get a better feeling for a campus if you visit while college is in session rather than during a summer vacation or weekends.  Check the college calendar to see if college is in session while you have a school vacation.  For warranted absences, you must arrange – in advance.  Forms are available through the Assistant Principals Office or the Attendance Office.  Students are granted three warranted absence days for college visits each year.
    • Ask about staying on campus overnight. Contact a Drake graduate and stay with them! Some colleges have programs that allow you to stay on campus in one of the student residence halls, attend college classes that interest you, eat in the dining halls and talk with students.  You are encouraged to ask about this type of program for it is one of the best ways to find out about life on campus.
    • Call ahead for a campus tour and admissions office appointment.  Most colleges have regularly scheduled campus tours conducted by student guides.  You should check the website or phone the campus to make sure of the time of these tours.  You may also phone the admissions office to make an appointment with an admissions representative.
    • Plan to visit only one or two campuses each day.  When you travel some distance you may be tempted to visit several colleges a day, so you can see as much as possible, however, visiting more than two a day is exhausting.  You should stay longer on each campus and take time to evaluate your impressions.  It is easy to get campuses mixed up if you visit too many in a short period. 


    Ask questions that interest you; seek information not readily available in school publications.  The questions you ask during a visit should be ones that involve opinions, impressions and information that especially concern you.


    Some possible questions are:

    • Where are the residence halls and dining rooms for first year students?
    • What do students like about living on campus?
    • What are some of the living challenges faced by new students?
    • Where do students usually live when they are sophomores?
    • Who is available to help you choose the proper classes?
    • What is the possibility of registering for your top choice classes as a freshman?
    • Do professors or student assistants teach most classes?
    • How many students are going to be in my classes?
    • How much study time is needed to earn good grades?
    • What are some of the most popular courses?
    • What challenges do students face in adjusting to college courses?
    • Do most students stay on campus on weekends?
    • What kinds of concerts, plays, movies, and dances are available?
    • Do many students go to the school sporting events?  How’s the school spirit?
    • Do you have an intra-mural sports program?
    • What security is available when walking around the campus at night?
    • What is the alcohol and drug situation among students?
    • What kind of help is available if you have a personal problem?
    • What do students like most about the college?
    • Why do some students drop out or transfer to another college?  Retention rate?
    • Would you encourage me to come to this college?


    Students who graduated from the same high school that you attend are some of the best people to talk with regarding college choices.  Many students who graduated the previous year return for a visit and share their experiences and advice.  You can also check in the College & Career Center for names of students who are attending schools that you are considering.  You should not be hesitant about contacting older students you did not know in high school, for they are usually quite willing to talk with you about their college.


    Visiting is one of the best ways to investigate colleges. You can learn a lot in several hours on a campus. If the college conducts interviews, be sure to arrange one with the admissions office in advance. Take a tour of the campus, ask the students what they like and dislike about the school, sit in on classes and sample the food. If at all possible, try to stay overnight in a dorm by making arrangements with the office of admission or by contacting a student you know at the college.  If you are applying for financial aid, consider arranging an appointment with the financial aid office.


    Make a list of schools that interest you. Begin to group your lists into three clusters:

    reaches, possible and sure admits.

    Reaches are schools that admit students with grades and board scores substantially above your own -- 100 to 150 points on each SAT section and a full grade point average above your own. (Certain colleges, due to large numbers of applicants, will be Reaches even if you meet their median statistics.)

    Possible Admits/Matches/Targets are colleges that admit students with grades and SATs that are near or slightly above your own.

    Sure Admits/Safeties are schools that accept students with grades and board scores notably below your own -- 75 points below your own on each section of the SAT and a grade point average half a grade point level below your own.


    Your largest category should be Possible Admits/Targets. Make sure that they are all colleges you would attend if admitted. Keep narrowing down your choices until you have a list of schools where you wish to apply.


    "We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery,

         guided each by a private chart,

              of which there is no duplicate.

                   The world is all gates, all opportunities."

                                                       Ralph Waldo Emerson



    Last updated by Sheila R Souder, on 1/23/2020.