Do’s and Don’ts of College Visits

By Penny Deck, M.Ed., CEP
Director of Counseling & College Services

Spring is here! That means it’s prime time for visiting colleges. Whether you’re just beginning your college search or have narrowed down your top picks, careful research will help you with your college selection process. The best way to size up an institution and determine fit is by visiting the campus. Before you hit the road, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind!




DO plan your visit in advance. Showing up cold makes it more difficult for the visit to meet your needs and ensure you see what you want to see. Since tours try to cover a lot of ground, they don’t often delve deep into specific departments or interests. By calling in advance, you might be able to request add-ons like a meeting with a faculty member or a special tour of a particular department.

DO allow adequate travel time, factoring in traffic, getting lost, and parking.

DO visit colleges when the students are there. You are more likely to get the true campus vibe and feel for the social and academic scene when the college is in full swing.

DO sit in on a class, if time allows. Some schools have a master list of classes that you can pick from. You can arrange this in advance through the admissions department.

DO attend a school-related event, such as an athletic event, a theater production or a concert. This is another way to get a feel for the social scene at the college.

DO talk to students on campus other than the tour guide. Getting more candid perspectives is always a good thing!

DO ask questions that you want answers to; this is not a time to be shy! You’ll be living at your college for the next four years, you should know everything you need to know before you commit.

DO wear comfortable clothing and shoes but be presentable. You want to make a good impression. And be prepared for any kind of weather.


DON’T try to visit too many schools in one day. Usually two in one day is the most you can visit and still remember what you heard, saw, and experienced.

DON’T let your parent(s) do all the talking. They should be supportive bystanders but this is YOUR visit.

DON’T hesitate to go beyond the standard tour if you want to see particular things and to gather your own impressions.

DON’T forget to take notes and journal your thoughts and impressions.

DON’T forget to take lots of pictures. When you arrive at a college, your first picture should be of something with the name of the school on it, e.g., a sign, a t-shirt, a folder, etc., so that you will know which college is represented in the pictures.

Above and Beyond: Math Peer Tutors

The purpose of Math Peer Tutors is for students to support other students in an academic way. It also provides students with teaching opportunities and allows them to share their enthusiasm for mathematics. Math Peer Tutors was started in 2016 by Brenda Bullock Brickley ’69 in the math department.

Anyone can sign up for a tutor or drop in during open office hours. So far in the 2018-19 school year, 38 students have received tutoring from 11 peer tutors.

In order to be a tutor, students must be in an upper level math class, have high grades in her math classes, and complete an application. Ms. Brickley makes final decisions on all tutors.

When they meet:
Tutors currently hold open office hours on Wednesdays, from 7:50 a.m. – 8:20 a.m., however they are also available by appointment during study halls, open lunch, and after school. One tutor even met her student on the weekend!

Why it matters:
“On my first day, I was shown to a peer tutor, and I ended up staying with her the entire year. She was so flexible to work with, and it was really nice too because I could send her math problems through text/email and she would answer them at nights and on the weekends.

She really wanted me to succeed! At the beginning of the year, I was making some C’s and the occasional D. After spending a year with my tutor, I was making B’s and the occasional A! She was so helpful, and I still ask her sometimes for help on math. I absolutely loved having a peer tutor.” – Rachel Bruce

“Math peer tutoring gives me the opportunity to interact with underclassmen. It is such an incredible feeling when the student finally understands a concept that they have been working on, and I love being able to facilitate this.” – Eve Maddock

Ms. Brickley can also attest that students who come to tutoring do better in class. “My students’ grades have definitely improved after coming to tutoring,” said Ms. Brickley. “And those that have received help have told me that it is a wonderful experience, and at the very least has helped with their confidence. I see this is really true as they continue to see their tutors without much pushing from their math teachers.”

In 2018, Ms. Brickley received the Hearts at Work award for the Math Peer Tutors. Hearts at Work is an award given out every year to a faculty/staff member who has goes above and beyond the call of duty. The recipient needs to have identified a need in the school community, and designed and implemented a thoughtful solution that positively affects a majority of students and/or faculty.

“The Math Peer Tutors program is great!” said Head of School Renata Rafferty. “It multiplies the number of students who can get one-on-one help when faculty members are assisting others. Sometimes, all it takes for a student to understand or apply a math concept is hearing it explained in another way. And in working through problems or lessons with students asking for help, the girls doing the tutoring deepen their own knowledge and understanding of the subject.”