by Ashley McCarrick

Before you start applying to colleges in your senior year, take the time to visit so you know which schools will be the best fit for you. Here are a few tips to help you plan your visits:

1. Visit early

The best time to visit colleges is during 10th and 11th grade. Many students choose to save long breaks (spring, summer, and winter) to visit schools that are far away or out-of-state. Local colleges that require a shorter drive can be saved for quick weekend trips. In addition, you should look at the colleges’ websites to see when they offer guided tours and plan your trips accordingly.

2. Picture yourself at the college

Ask students about their experiences, academics, and extracurricular activities. Also consider the setting of the school. What kind of weather are you willing to tolerate, and what kind of city or town do you want to be in? Some students thrive in schools that are in the middle of an urban city, while others are looking for some peace and quiet in more rural areas.

3. Tour the campus

Ask to see inside a dormitory, eat at a dining hall, and sit in on a class if available. Get information about programs of study and see if they fit your academic interests. In terms of your long-term future, think about whether the college will open up valuable career or internship opportunities in your field of study, or even study abroad opportunities.

4. Ask good questions

Some of the most common questions that prospective students have are regarding:

Special requirements for admissions. Besides your high school transcript, test scores, and essays, are there any special characteristics for which the college is looking?

Financial aid. What types of student loans, scholarships, grants, and work studies are offered?

Don’t ask questions that are easily found on the college’s website. Do your research ahead of time so you can ask meaningful questions.

College visits are the best way to discover what you want post-high school.

College visits are the best way to discover what you want post-high school. Take this time to get to know yourself and find your perfect fit.

If you do not have time to visit a college, be sure to correspond through phone calls or e-mail. Put your name on their mailing list so they can contact you. If they are ever in your area for an event, you can easily sign up to attend.

Ashley McCarrick is an Executive Director at KD College Prep. She has been serving KD students since 2007 and enjoys helping teenagers discover their dreams. In her free time, Ashley delights in spending time with her daughter, Lilley, and volunteering with various local organizations. You may contact her at a.mccarrick@kdcollegeprep.com.