A student walks across the campus of Columbia University in New York on Oct. 5, 2009. Reuters

As the acceptance -- and rejection -- letters come in, high school seniors across the United States are faced with a big decision: Where should they go to college? The next four years of their lives are at stake, and research can teach you only so much. Sometimes you have to actually visit a school to know whether you'd fit in there.

Campus visits can be fun, but they're also awkward. Your mom will probably be with you, your tour guide will be unusually peppy, and you'll be hypersensitive to everything going on around you. You need to be careful not to lose your head. Here are five tips for getting the most out of your college visits:

1. Go on a normal school day. You want to make sure you see what campus life is like most of the time, so the Princeton Review recommends that you avoid touring over a break or during a special occasion.

2. Take an official tour. These tours, usually led by students, will give you a general overview of how things work and where they're located on campus. You'll learn some school history, too, which could be useful should you enroll later on.

3. Explore a little. After that's done, About Education recommends you go out on your own. Reach out to any friends you may have already on campus and ask if you can see their dorm room. Eat in the dining hall. Wander through the library. Only then will you get a good feel for student life.

4. Spend some time off campus. Odds are you'll leave school grounds at some point to eat or party, and you may end up living off campus once you're older. College Xpress recommends driving or walking around the city itself to check out the nearby resources, like grocery stores and parks.

5. Photograph everything. Schools will start to all look the same after a while if you're on a college visit road trip. When you're at home deciding where to go, you may want to be able to go back and remember what each school was like.

Here are 10 questions to ask:

1. How much student debt do people usually graduate with?

2. How many students live on campus?

3. What's the average class size?

4. What do students do on the weekends?

5. Is it difficult to change majors?

6. How do students get around campus?

7. Where can you do laundry or print?

8. What percent of classes are led by professors (as opposed to teaching assistants)?

9. Does the campus feel safe?

10. What kinds of clubs can you join as a freshman?