A college campus tour is great for getting a definitive idea of whether or not a particular college is a good fit, academically and athletically. Below are some reasons why you should tour the colleges on your list.
- You get the opportunity to get a good sense of the campus and student-life
- You can sit in on classes and watch prospective college teams play sport, to get a good sense of the academic and athletic elements of the college
- You can make an impression on a college coach you are interested in playing for
- You can find out about the social life, dorms and make-up of the student body
- You get to have all of your questions answered by college administrators
- They go a long way toward making your final college decision
If a college coach invites you on a college campus tour, don’t be afraid to ask if it is an unofficial or official visit. The specific rules and regulations surrounding campus visits vary based on sport, gender, and division, so you will need to reference Pages 32-36 in the 2018-2019 NCAA Guide for College-Bound Student Athletes. Before you tour a college campus there are a number of steps you should take to prepare for a successful visit. The following steps will help you maximize your visit.
- Explore the official website of the college in question and read over any material that the college administration has given you prior to your visit
- Make a list of questions to ask the coach, athletes and any other college personal you might meet
- Make sure you have a map of the campus so you can really get a good feel for the campus in its entirety
- Pack a notebook and a camera (your phone will work) to document your trip. You will be surprised at how much you forget after the tour/visit is over
- Print out and use the college campus visit scorecard
After following the steps above and preparing adequately you are ready for a great college campus visit. The best time to visit a campus is often in the Monday – Thursday timeframe as this is when campus and class is in full swing. Follow the checklist below to ensure that the tour is successful.
Checklist for an ideal college campus tour
- Meet with admissions and do a campus tour
- Sit in on a class
- Eat in the cafeteria
- Meet with a faculty member if you have a specific major
- Watch a training session (ask permission!)
- Sit down with the coach
Depending on when you take your college campus tour, a meeting with the coach may or may not be possible. If you are a freshman or sophomore and not on the coach’s radar, he/she may not take the time to meet with you. If you are already in conversations with the coaching staff, let them know you will be visiting campus and ask if you can stop by their office. Each coaching staff is different in the way that it handles unofficial visits and campus tours, but it is always good to touch base with them before you arrive on the college campus.
If possible, visit the schools on your list multiple times. Many colleges roll out the red carpet for Open House and Prospective Student Day, but if you go on a “normal” day you may get a more realistic view of the school. Events hosted by Admissions Office can be beneficial, but they are specifically designed to show-off the college’s best qualities. Explore campus yourself, eat in the cafeteria, and talk to some students to get the “insider” perspective on a particular college.
As a prospective student-athlete, you also have the option to do an overnight visit. Up to this point, you have likely only conversed with the coaching staff. While talking and listening to the coaches is valuable, it is even more important to spend time with the current players. As a student-athlete you will spend the majority of your time with your teammates, so gauging how well you connect/fit in with the current players is an important part of evaluating your final schools. Below is a checklist for an ideal overnight college visit.
Checklist for an ideal overnight visit:
- Go to class with a current player
- Eat meals with the team
- Attend a training session
- Meet with the coach
- Spend the night with current players
- Watch a game/training session
If you are not able to accomplish all of these things during your visit, that’s okay. The most important thing is to get to know the players on the team. Remember, the current players have the potential to be your teammates for the next 1-3 years, so make sure that you feel comfortable around them. If you don’t have a great overnight college campus visit, it may be a sign that the school is not a good fit for you.
Taking overnight college campus visits is one of the best ways to evaluate your final schools, so make it a priority during the final stages of your recruiting process. For information on topics such as: making the final decision, how to email a college coach, and how to make a sport highlight video visit the ACA Blog.