Hi! My name is Rebecca and I am currently working with the College Advice Guy. I graduated college in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree. I thought that touring was the best part of the whole selection process, and I hope you will too! Here are some tips I figured out along the way! Have any questions? Make sure to send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you have selected some schools you think you are interested in attending and now it is time to check them out in real life! Tours can be daunting, but are always an exciting experience: Each visit may be your first time experiencing your future school! If you are nervous, don’t worry! The school is going to be trying to impress you. Maybe you’re preoccupied by the thought of all those older students looking at you and think the tour guide will be considering you during the tour as a precursory part of your acceptance- trust me, they are not grading you based on if you have a “silly question”! There are ways however, to be a more informed tourist to your potential school and we have broken it into 6 main tips here:
- Before you tour, do your homework!
College campuses are usually fairly large and can be quite confusing! If you are able to have a bit of a frame of reference, you will have a better recollection when you reflect on the different schools you have visited. It is quite easy to confuse which dining hall was at which school and what school had the dorm you really liked.
A lot of schools now offer virtual tours on their websites, or have photo galleries of the campus. Use these to become familiar with the campus or to even eliminate schools. I once got to a school for a tour and never even got out of the car! Just pulling up and seeing the campus was enough to know it was not the right fit for me.
- Take notes!
Don’t worry, this isn’t a suggestion to walk and write at the same time, but after the tour, maybe during your ride home, take notes of the things that were positives for you and the things that you didn’t like so much. Also be sure to write down any questions you had that maybe you hadn’t asked during the tour. You may be able to find the information on the school’s website or can call the admissions office later to see if they can answer it.
- Check out the students!
These people are going to be your peers and friends for the next four (and hopefully beyond) years. Seeing students in action will help you see if you will fit in! Consider going when an event that interests you is occurring. If you are interested in playing sports at any level, try to go when you see a game scheduled! Or, if you have a club in high school that has a chapter at the college, consider contacting the club to see if you could come to an event or meeting. This will give you a better idea of the student life!
My sister went to visit a large, highly rated University where everyone was walking around with headphones in and no one was really walking in groups or socializing. Even though this was a generalized representation of the campus, it helped my sister to immediately know that it was not the right pick for her!
- SO… go when students will be there!
Touring a school during break may be convenient with your high school schedule, but remember that you will be missing one big aspect of campus- the atmosphere! Touring a deserted campus may not give you the best sense for what the school is like. You probably will only be meeting the tour guides who generally are some of the most outgoing people on campus and hardly represent the whole student body!
Remember too that even schools that are not considered commuter schools will have fewer students around on the weekends. Students may be going home, or they may be heading off campus to volunteer, go to work, or an intercollegiate sports game. And let’s face it- they are college students! Some are probably sleeping in or are camped out in the dining hall or library.
- Ask any questions you have
Now is the perfect time to ask that question that Google can’t quite help with, but you desperately want to know! “How’s the food in the dining hall? What are the freshmen dorms really like? How often do students pull all-nighters?” These are questions everyone starting college has at first and the school selected and trained their best students to answer these questions for you. Don’t be nervous to speak up either. This is your opportunity to find out all you can about your future investment!
- Got in? Go back!
Once you receive an acceptance from a school, they will usually have an accepted students’ day which is where they really bring out the big guns! Make sure to go to this day because much more specific information will be given out here and more opportunities for you to explore the campus will be available. You may be able to attend a mock class, hear presentations from the department of your major and will be able to attend information sessions on getting financial aid, living in on-campus housing and what courses your academic plan will require.
The college acceptance process can be a long one filled with forms and essays, but the opportunity to tour the schools is an exciting break from the hard work. You will be amazed at the facilities available to you in college and you will get a glimpse of the independence that awaits you in college. Be sure to follow these tips, and hopefully you will find your perfect fit school!