Campus tours are an essential part of the college selection process. College catalogs and orientation packets can only give students a cursory look at what a college or university has to offer. And while a school may look perfect on paper, it may turn out not to be a good fit when you finally arrive on campus. By visiting the college or university in person, you will gain a better understanding of the school and of what campus life will really be like. A campus tour also gives you the chance to interact with current students to see what they have to say about the college you are considering.
Here are some things to look for in your college campus tours:
Walking Through a Guided Tour
When you schedule your college visit, make sure they offer a guided tour of the campus. While it may seem unusual, some college visits do not include a comprehensive tour of the campus and facilities. As you are guided around the college, take the time to get a good look at the main buildings and other areas of the campus. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your guide concerning how the campus functions, and what campus life is like for the student body.
Your visit to the college campus should include a trip through the admissions offices and financial aid departments, as well as the major classroom buildings and dormitories. There will be a lot to take in on a short visit, but this will give you an idea of how easy or difficult it will be to navigate your way through the college grounds. At this point it is a good policy to question your guide about the state of the campus library, the availability of internet service and the condition of any and all lab facilities you will be relying on when you take up residence.
Photos & Virtual Tours of School Campus
Many colleges and universities offer virtual tours via the internet. While these can be helpful at the initial stages of your interest in a particular school, they can not capture the true atmosphere of a college campus as well as a personal tour. Be wary of virtual tours, and use them only as a way of narrowing down your college choices to the the few that you want to definitely consider.
Sitting In On a Classroom Session
Many campus tours offer visitors the opportunity to sit in on a college class. This is a good way for prospective students to get a feel for what the classroom atmosphere is like at a particular university. While you can’t judge an entire college’s reputation on the strength of one classroom visit, it can be a good indicator of the teaching style, and level of student class involvement, offered by the college. This will help you decide if the college suits your personality as well as your educational needs.
After auditing the class, you will have a good opportunity to talk to some of the current students and question them about the school and about campus life. Most students will speak candidly about their experiences at the college, so be prepared with any specific questions you wish to ask. Keep in mind that the students you approach are between classes, so be sure to ask them if they have the time to chat and try to keep it brief.
A Dorm Room Stay
Many colleges offer prospective students the opportunity to spend a night in one of their dorms as part of their campus visit. This can be a great chance to see first hand what living on campus will be like. You will be able to see what it will be like to share a dorm with other students, and will get a good feel for what living conditions are like on campus. Remember, if you choose to attend the college you are visiting, this is where you will be living for the next 2 to 4 years.
While staying overnight in the dorms, be sure to ask questions of the other students, and make notes about what you like and dislike about the college. These notes will come in handy later when you are comparing the pros and cons of the colleges you have been considering.
Schedule Question Time
While touring the college campus, take every opportunity to ask questions of the tour guide, faculty and current students. This will help you gather information on the rigors of class work, the study habits of the student body, what is expected of freshman students and what campus life is like in general. The more you know about the college you are considering, the easier it will be to decide if your personality and study habits make a good fit.
The key to success in college, is to find the school that best meets your needs as both a student and an individual. Gather all the information you can, review it and compare it with other colleges you may be considering, and choose the school that you feel best suits your educational goals.
Reprinted with permission from gocollege.com.
Acing Your Campus Tours
Let’s look at some tips to help you make the most of your campus visit, and to help you select a college in which you will flourish.
Have a Meal
One of the best ways to get a feel for campus life at any college, is to sit down to a meal with the current students. Evaluate the dining hall, cafeteria or fast food restaurants on campus. Are the students sociable, or are they keeping to themselves? Are the students cheerful and upbeat, or do they seem stressed and unhappy? Remember, their experience will soon be your experience.
Also consider whether or not the faculty take their meals with the students. When the professors and college staff share their meals with the students, it shows a good relationship between the pupils and their instructors. This is vital to a comfortable and successful learning environment.
Don’t forget to sample the food. Money will be tight while you are in college, and most of your meals will be on campus. If the food, or the company, is unacceptable to you it is going to be a long four years indeed.
While you’re walking the campus, or taking a break in the cafeteria, listen to what other students are saying. Are they discussing their classes and campus life? If so what are they saying about it? Is it positive or negative? Do the students on campus seem stressed out, or do they seem to be enjoying their course work and the college life? A little bit of judicious eavesdropping and first hand observation will give you a good read on what campus life will be like at the college you are considering. Observing students in unguarded moments will give you a truer feeling for what life on this campus will be like.
Talk to the Faculty
During most campus tours you will have the opportunity to speak with faculty members in the department you are planning to enter. This may require you to break off from the main party for a bit, so as not to disrupt the other members of the tour group. But if you can manage it, it will definitely help you in the college selection process. Speaking with faculty members, admissions staff and financial aid advisers will allow you to ask any specific questions you have about the college in general, and campus life in particular. Chatting with your potential professors will also allow you to get a read on the faculty members with whom you will soon have the most interaction. You will be able to judge whether or not they are friendly, open and ready to answer a student’s questions.
Talk to Students
If you have the opportunity, approach some of the students on campus and ask them about the college. Don’t be shy. Remember, not so long ago they were touring campuses and facing the very same decisions as you. Ask some the students you meet on your campus tour what they think of the college in general. How do they feel about their classes? Are the professors and administration helpful and accessible? What are the dorms like, and how is the food on campus? These are things you will need to know when making your final choice of a college.
Reprinted with permission from gocollege.com.