If you know enough to ask the question, you are ready to start visiting colleges.
But what if you’re only a freshman in high school?
Now it may matter to the colleges. Many colleges will host special visit days only open to juniors or seniors so you won’t be able to participate in them.
However, virtually all colleges have some sort of campus tour that anyone can attend although you might have to register for it. Also, students can usually attend college fairs at anytime.
This doesn’t mean that freshman should be planning summer college visit tours across the country. It means that as soon as students are interested (or are willing to tolerate it depending the student) they should start visiting area colleges and universities to just get a feel for the process. When traveling, if there is time, do a quick tour of a local college.
Consider this preparation for the college visits that really matter. At this point, there isn’t any pressure (I hope) and there isn’t any reasons to not visit a school, no matter how much the student doesn’t like the campus. It’s not a commitment, it’s not even a fact-finding mission. It’s developing the skills to get the most out of future college visits by doing “practice” ones now.