5 Must-Do Things When Taking a College Campus Tour

college campus tour

It is all about the college campus tour.  One study found that the campus visit is the single largest influence on student application decisions. College Campus tours help students get to know schools more intimately. It easy to research a school, check out their social media profiles, examine locations, majors offered, student/teacher ratio, etc. However, so much more goes into selecting an educational environment in which a student will feel comfortable and thrive.

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5 Things You Must Do When Taking a College Campus Tour

1. Visit when school is in session. You want to get a realistic idea of an actual day you might experience at the school you want to attend.  See classes in session, visit the cafeteria – try the food, and check out a dorm.  Is this campus a highly social campus with students gathering in common areas, or do people mostly keep to themselves as they move between classes? All of these aspects can only be discovered during an average day on campus.

Take the weather when you visited into account when comparing colleges. If you visited College A during the winter when the ground was frozen and students were scurrying from building to building, keep that in mind when comparing it to College B, which you visited in late spring, when the bulbs were blooming and the students were sunbathing between classes.

2. Leave a paper trail: Most Important – Make sure the college KNOWs you have attended.   Colleges are overwhelmed with the amount of applicants and the pool grows bigger every year.  Make sure you let the school know you were there – check in, meet with someone from admissions.  Sign in: The admissions office keeps track of who visits campus, and how often. Be sure to sign in every time you visit the school because that’s how they know you are interested in attending. Demonstrated interest in a school may affect admissions decisions.  Tell a school even if you are visiting friends.  Leave a paper trail.  A campus visit may improve a student’s chance of admission.

Although some schools may have informal, walk-in tours available, most of the larger schools will require an appointment for students to participate in an admissions session and/or campus tour. This means students will need to go online or call weeks (or even months) in advance to secure their spot.

Depending on the time of year, some schools may even limit the number of high school underclassmen allowed, saving those precious spaces for graduating seniors who will be attending next fall. Seniors should not only participate in an admissions session and tour, but also consider scheduling an interview with an admissions counselor, and possibly meeting with the department chairs or professors within their chosen degree field. Juniors, who tour during the spring or summer before senior year, should also consider going through the interview process.

3. Roam around campus: Eat in the cafeteria. Sit in on a class that might interest you. It may sound counter-intuitive to venture away from the person assigned to tell you everything about campus, but you’re not obligated to stay on a tour the entire time. If you’re not loving your tour guide, or you see something that looks interesting to you, don’t be afraid to leave the main group and catch up later.  Sometimes, you can learn a lot more from an on-campus event or a candid conversation with a current student than you can from a scripted tour.  College campuses can be so beautiful and full of activity that it can be easy to forget the importance of the town or city in which they are located. Make sure to explore the edges of campus and the surrounding areas.

Campus tours are a great way to get a feel for a school, but students should remember that tours are geared to show them the best the college has to offer. To see what a college may be like on an average day, students should opt to roam on their own for a few hours before or after their tour. It’s a good idea for them to have a meal at the cafeteria (they’ll be eating there quite a lot, if accepted), sit in on a class (big and small), or chat up some students that are hanging out on campus. If possible, students should also spend some time exploring the surrounding community, or consider participating in an overnight stay, to see if it the college is a good match.

4. Picture yourself at this school: Ask yourself the “Right Fit Question”: Best Question is to ask yourself: “Do I belong here?”  Can you picture yourself at this school, joining clubs, eating in the cafeteria, walking to class?  In addition, if a little voice is telling you it does not feel right, there may be a good reason. Ask yourself what kind of contributions you will make to a campus community as you discover if you can “fit” in.  Ask yourself –” Do I feel safe?”  Learn about the unique culture of this school.

5. Stay Organized. Write down the names of the people you meet – tour guides, admissions people, etc. Then when you are faced with the question “Why should you go to this school?” you could name the person you met and why they made such a big difference in your college choice.

Bring your phone: Use your smart-phone to take photos of the campus or take notes.  Make it a point to snap pictures of both the things you like AND dislike. Students should pay attention to various things, such as dorm room sizes and options, typical class size, how many students stay after their first year and how many graduate on time, as well as other things that may play a role in their decision to apply. Once students have narrowed their lists, sent in their college applications, and received their acceptance letters, a second trip may be needed to help them make a final decision. A picture may speak a thousand words, but a campus visit is the best way for students to see themselves in that picture.

Share your campus tour tips with our readers in the comment section below.

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