Planning college tours takes time, focus and forethought, but a well-planned college visit provides an essential "up close" view of a range of schools beyond local colleges. Don’t skip the official tour and information session as you want to hear what the tour guides and admission representatives highlight about their school, and how they distinguish their school from others. Focus on which aspects the guides and representatives emphasize, such as class sizes for first-year students, "3-5" programs, honors programs, financial aid and cost to attend, study abroad (most schools have one), or what it takes to be admitted. Touring potential schools will help you get a sense of the scale of each campus and allows you to meet students ("your people" - or not) and determine if this could be “your campus” for the next four or five years. Picking up college "swag" may be part of the trip, but make sure to pick up a school paper (or read it online), see a double or triple dorm room, and eat the cafeteria food as part of discovering what each college offers. Take the time to go off-campus. Explore the surrounding community. Can you find your favorite foods? Does the town provide student discounts and celebrate college events? Snap pictures to help you remember your trip, so when you're back home and making notes (yes, take notes on what you observed and thought), you know the differences between the various schools you have visited.
Whether you're planning local college visits or trips across the country, check out some of these resources and online tools to help you maximize your college visits and research.
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