College applications or college visits, which comes first? If you visit a college and don’t like it, you may feel you have wasted two critical resources, time and money. But, if you don’t visit and get accepted, then, it’s time for the April college visit run to decide if you should attend. We recommend finding a middle ground for college visits.

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College applications and college visits require two critical resources, time and money. So which comes first? We recommend finding a balance between applications and visits through research. If you comb a college website and decide the college is truly a contender for your college application list, you should plan a visit. College visits trump websites because they answer important questions. What did it feel like to walk around campus? Would you feel comfortable living at this college? Was the Academic Advisor prepared to answer your questions and interested in helping you achieve your goals? College visits are also a wonderful catalyst for family discussions about priorities, finances, and options.

College Search Kickoff

Kickoff your college search by traveling to as many schools as possible prior to submitting your applications. College visits allow you to view the campus up close and develop personal opinions that enable you to perform side-by-side comparisons of your experiences. Exposing the pros and cons of colleges you are considering is just one of an infinite number of benefits college visits provide. Listed below are ten benefits you may glean from touring college campuses.

1. Learn about college atmospheres and what it’s really like to walk around a college campus.

2. Formulate your expectations for your college experience.

3. Attend a class and get a real feel for college lectures.

4. Determine your college application requirements.

5. Familiarize yourself with undergraduate curriculums.

6. Investigate your financial aid options.

7. Plan your postgraduate career.

8. Speak to college students about the pros and cons of college life.

9. Decide if this college is worth applying to.

10. Use the college visit to finalize your decision if you are accepted to the school.

College Visit Activities

Consider college visits a gateway for determining your final college application list. A word of caution, your gateway will be as firm or feeble as you make it resulting in a college application list that is well-thought-out or regrettable. Therefore, you must meticulously chart your course and cautiously execute your plan. Prior to your college visit, define your goals and create an agenda with a timetable for each hour of your day. Throughout your visit, incorporate activities that reap the benefits listed above and complete many of the activities listed below.

1. Tour the campus.

2. Attend a college class.

3. Schedule appointments with the Admissions Counselor, Academic Advisor, and Financial Aid Officer.

4. Eat in the cafeteria.

5. Meet a student for lunch if you know someone attending the college.

6. Speak with a professor(s).

7. Visit placement services.

8. Check out the campus bookstore.

9. Stop at the library and ask about their resources.

10.Inquire about tutoring services available for students.


You are likely to gain a considerable amount of insight from your college visits. Although they are not a necessity of the college application process, college visits are an incredibly useful tool for making the initial decisions for where you will apply to college and making the final decision of where you will attend college. Before planning your college visits, consider taking virtual campus tours. For a list of websites providing virtual campus tours, visit College Pencilpedia. For more great tips with a step-by-step approach for planning your college visits, purchase “The Ultimate College Application Guide” on Amazon today. Safe travels!

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