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9 Steps to Get Organized for Spring College Visits

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

One of the most fun parts of the college search journey involves college visits.

Here’s how you can get your calendar organized, get every family member on board and how to get ready (and pack!) for spring visits.

organization clock

Why Get Organized for Spring Visits?

So, why get organized? Here’s why.

Reason 1: The more you prep, the more a college will see you as a viable candidate. 

Well, duh, right? Why wouldn’t you get organized?

It’s better than cramming random things in a backpack (are you sure you have the right stuff?) and heading off into the unknown.

The reality is that most people don’t get organized for college visits.

They pull on a pair of holey jeans and show up, expecting the admissions counselor to put on a dog-and-pony show (I know because I spent 12 years in college admission.)

The more you can prep for a college visit, the more the college will see you as the real deal. You want them to say, “Wow, this kid has it together! What a plan for his life! I feel so inspired!” 

You can only get there with a plan. 

Reason 2: Life feels better with a plan. 

As soon as you can rally around a plan, you feel like you’re getting organized.

Just be okay with changing the plan slightly if something occurs—like a school drops down its visit volume due to COVID-19. Or your mom suddenly gets called away for a business trip during the timeframe you planned to do your college visits.

The moral of the story: Plan, but prep for an alternative visit date—just in case. Things happen!

Reason 3: You start to square away what you’re looking for. (And what you’re not.)

It’s impossible to know what kind of college you want to go to if you wait to organize visits.

Visiting a giant state university is a great way to realize you don’t want to go to a large state university. Going to a small liberal arts college and checking out the 13-member math class make you recoil in horror. Visiting the local community college might feel just right—and so might living at home. 

Plan spring visits well in advance of junior or senior year.

That way, you give yourself plenty of time to really feel out your options instead of rushing to make a last-minute decision that you might regret.

Reason 4: You start to make connections. 

It takes time to make connections.

Starting college visits early in the spring makes it possible for you to get to know people at colleges and universities. (And just in case you’re not aware, people make your college experience richer.)

After all, you’ll need to interact with people in your job (and the rest of your career). You want to make sure you start making connections as you organize these visits.

Categorizing the visits, setting up meetings and figuring out who to lean on during the college search (and while you’re at the college) can really help you.

Rules of Thumb for Getting Organized

It’s so difficult to get organized sometimes, especially when you’re diving into the unknown. Check out some tips for getting organized for spring visits.

Step 1: Start a shared calendar. 

Create a Google calendar and include all family members who will be involved in college visits—including younger brothers and sisters. Like it or not, it’s a great idea to have your brothers and sisters join in on visits too—they can learn a lot before it’s their turn for college visits.

A shared calendar enables you all to take a look at a glance at all activities and can help you all get on the same page about the best time and date to visit colleges.

Step 2: Write down your goals.

How many colleges and universities would you like to visit by a certain date? Don’t focus on an arbitrary number. Just because your best friend is visiting 10 schools by September doesn’t mean you have to as well.

There are no right or wrong rules here.

If you want to pick three and go from there, that’s OK!

Don’t let what your friends are doing influence how many schools you visit. 

Step 3: Use a task manager.

Have you ever used Asana or Trello for keeping track of things? Create a board and use it to organize your scholarship tasks, application tasks—and you guessed it, visits!

There’s no reason you can’t keep track of what colleges you’ve called, which hotels you’ve booked and which flights you have yet to book on a task manager.

begin coffee cup

How to Implement Your Organized Tasks

You can organize all you want, but if you don’t actually implement the tasks you’ve hammered out, things start slipping through the cracks.

Step 4: Set aside time to map out your days and plan your weeks. 

Work backward and add deadlines to your task manager so you know what to need to look forward to and still need to plan.

Here are a few tips for planning:

  • Plan and schedule all small things, even if it’s something like “print out parking pass for admissions office lot.”
  • Dedicate 20 minutes every week to plan your week. 
  • Overestimate how long certain tasks will take, such as booking a flight. These things take longer than you think!

Try “brain dumping” everything. Write down everything you have to do at the beginning of your week, then categorize your to-dos into three categories based on what’s important for spring visits: 

  • Must do
  • Should do
  • Can put on the back burner

For example, if you need to schedule a flight out and the flight is next week, that should go on the must-do list. Add it to the “should-do” list if you’ve got four months to book the flight.

Step 5: Take a look at your upcoming tasks weekly. 

It’s best to know what’s ahead.

You don’t want to find yourself blindsided and overwhelmed if something comes up that you’re not ready for—like a college visit that you forgot to schedule altogether.

Review upcoming tasks so you know what your plan is, week to week.

Step 6: Implement a check system.

As soon as you’ve finished a task, check it off and move to the next one. Asana has a great check system that you can use. Easy, right?

Step 7: Review everything you need to do for all colleges prior to visiting.

Have you done everything you need to do? Maybe you haven’t applied yet or filled out a particular scholarship application. What do you need to do to make sure you’re completely ready for the visit?

question mark on city wall

Final Steps to Get Ready for Spring Visits

You’re almost there! Do two more things to get ready for spring visits.

Step 8: Go through questions you have. 

You can’t ask thousands of questions during your college visit. You may need to go through a list of questions, then narrow it down to those that are a priority. Take a look at a list of questions, highlight the important ones, circle the secondary questions and you’ll be set.

You may want to print or write down questions you have. 

Step 9: Get packed up.

What do you need to take with you? Add it to your task list.

Don’t forget to add easy-to-forget items—phone charger, toothbrush, extra socks. You can always buy them after you get there, but your college visit schedule might be so jam-packed, you might not have time.

Get packed plenty of time and make sure you write down other things you need for travel, such as travel documents and parking passes sent to you from the college.

Get Organized (and Have Fun!) on Spring Visits

You want to get as organized as possible because you may already feel out of place.

A college visit at any college is a foreign experience! 

Follow these steps so you feel more prepared and comfortable during your visits, because when you feel comfortable, it’s more likely you’ll have a positive college visit experience. 

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Author: Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is the founder of College Money Tips and Money editor at Benzinga. She loves helping families navigate their finances and the college search process. Check out her essential timeline and checklist for the college search!