When to Start Visiting College Campuses (And Why You Should)

when to start visiting colleges

College can be, both, an exciting and scary step in student and parents’ lives. However, one of the ways to loosen up a bit about this big life change is to start visiting the actual colleges you or your child would like to attend.

Visiting the schools will give you a chance to see how the students live and what the school has to offer firsthand. But when is the right to start planning your trips? Keep reading for some great tips on when to start visiting colleges.

Why Should You Do College Visits?

Here’s the thing, transitioning from high school to college is not an easy adjustment at all. Young people are coming from living with their parents, having curfews, barely being responsible sometimes and getting in trouble when school work isn’t done. In the next instance, they are pretty much responsible for almost everything that goes on in their educational and daily lives.

This is obviously a huge step and often makes most parents very nervous. Visiting a college of interest allows the chance for everyone to get familiar with the campus and details about it. For example, some college campuses are integrated into big cities, so visiting will give students and parents an idea of how to maneuver while in the city.

Taking tours also gives you a chance to speak with staff and current students to get different perspectives of the school. If you already know what major you want to pursue, spend some time in the buildings where most of those courses may be held to get a feel of how your days will be.

Overall, you’ll be able to get an up-close and personal sneak peek at college life. Now that you know why you should visit, take a look at some tips on when to start visiting colleges.

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Getting a Headstart

Now is the time if you are a junior- or if you have a child who is in their junior year- and are considering when to start visiting colleges. It may seem a little early but this is around the time when looking at schools and getting to know deadlines and requirements for acceptance happens.

Planning a visit around spring break of junior year or the summer before senior begins may be good times. Be sure to ask the schools their class session dates so that you won’t arrive at an empty campus if you want to see student life. Most colleges start classes back as early as mid-August for their fall season.

Athletes may want to take their practice and off-seasons into account before planning a tour visit.

Choosing a Day

The most important tip on when to start visiting colleges is to consider when is the best time to see the school in its natural setting. This means getting a chance to see students shuffling to class, people grabbing lunch together on their breaks, classes in session and staff interacting with students. These are some of the real-life moments that will get you excited to attend the school.

To be able to catch these types of moments, you’ll need to choose the most opportune times. Planning a tour Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm is probably the best range. It’s early enough for students to already be out and about but not too groggy from just waking up. Although there are evening and nighttime classes, you’ll definitely want to come during the daytime.

Scheduling a campus tour visit on a Friday probably isn’t the best idea. Some students don’t have classes this day and are preparing for weekend social events. There are often students who go home or work on the weekends so the campus may be a little less active on a Friday.

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Avoid scheduling a tour around holidays and seasonal breaks (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Summer, etc.). It may also be beneficial to not visit during exam weeks (finals, etc.), as this can be a stressful time for students and staff.

Visit After Acceptance

You shouldn’t still be wondering when to start visiting colleges after an acceptance letter has been received. The answer is- now. Most schools have special accommodations and processes for accepted students to visit.

Be sure to remember that you are working on a shorter timeframe after acceptance. So try to schedule a visit as soon as possible because enrollment deadlines will be creeping up on you quickly.

Go on High School Trips

A lot of times college tour trips are available for students via their current high schools. Counselors and teachers typically arrange and accompany students on visits to local or popular schools. These are definitely the school trips that you want to take advantage of.

Find out if your school or your child’s school is planning any upcoming trips for college tours. You can also go to your teachers and suggest visits to schools that most of the students are interested in visiting. The trips are usually open to juniors, seniors and sometimes sophomores.

If you’re a school official planning a college visit and wanting to give the students the best experience, check out  for amazing tour guide systems.

Need More Info on When to Start Visiting Colleges?

This exciting time of becoming a college student can easily turn into a chaotic frenzy if certain things aren’t taken into consideration. It’s important to know when to starting visiting colleges because there are other steps and deadlines that come into play as well.

Typically, once you’ve reached your junior year in high school you can start looking into planning some trips to campuses later in the year. If you are already a senior then this is something you want to get to right away.

College visits can be really fun and informational for the whole family so this isn’t something you want to skip out on. For more information on school-related topics, check out articles in our education blog section.