The traditional times for visiting colleges are spring and summer of junior year and fall of senior year. At those times, armed with college lists and with a growing sense of who you are and what you want, you can conduct a focused, thoughtful visit of college campuses.
However, a number of students have found it valuable to visit college campuses on a more informal basis during their eighth, ninth, and tenth grade years. Those visits can sometimes happen on vacation or while visiting with an older sibling. Keep an open mind as you visit any campus. Take note of what you like and what you do not like about a campus. Use these informal visits as an opportunity to begin piecing together your picture of the ideal college.