Visiting a college or university campus is one of the best ways to get a feel for a school and one of the most exciting parts of the college search process! This interactive experience helps you decide if a particular college is right for you. We want your college visit to be the best, so we put together a list of 10 tips to make your experience epic! Here we go!
1. Take Virtual Tours First
If touring every college on your list isn’t an option, take a virtual tour instead! Check with each school’s admissions office to see if they offer live, virtual tours. Some may even include webinars, virtual panels, and video presentations. If a school on your list doesn’t offer a virtual tour, you can still get an idea of the campus vibe by checking out the school’s website. If your “dream college list” is long, taking virtual tours may help you narrow down your search and help you decide which colleges you want to visit in person.
2. Sign up for a Group Tour
All colleges and universities have admissions offices that can help you plan your visit. Most schools publish a calendar of their scheduled group tours online. If you can’t find the calendar, contact the admissions office by email or phone to schedule a visit. Sometimes, high schools offer organized campus tours. Check with your counselor to see if your high school offers tours.
3. Don’t Skip the Introduction and Information Session
Most school tours start with an introduction and information session. While it might be tempting to skip this part, we don’t recommend it! This session is typically led by an admissions representative and covers the criteria for admission, financial aid, campus history, and an overview of what to expect on the tour. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions and learn some “insider information” about the admissions process.
4. Take the Official Campus Tour (Ask to See your Housing Options)
Campus tours typically range from 1-2 hours, and current students often lead the guided tours. While they work off a script and start by showing the most popular places on campus, they have the flexibility to show you specific areas that interest you. For example, maybe you want to major in engineering. Ask to see the engineering building! While seeing housing on your tour isn’t guaranteed, ask if you can see a room. It’s nice to get an idea of where you might be living. Your guide wants you to have the best experience possible, so the college stands out when you’re ready to fill out applications.
5. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions that aren’t answered during the tour. If you’re stuck on what to ask, here are 10 questions you can ask your tour guide.
- Do all first-year students live on campus?
- What’s your favorite tradition at this college/university?
- How do students get around campus?
- Does the school offer study abroad programs?
- What kind of on-campus jobs are available?
- What campus safety resources exist?
- What is there to do on the weekends?
- What do you wish you knew about the school before you came as a first-year student?
Don’t forget to take notes and ask your guide for their name and email so you can follow up with any additional questions.
6. Go on Your Own Unguided Vibe Check Tour
Guided tours are awesome but don’t forget about the benefits of just wandering the campus. You can revisit your favorite tour spots or check out some new locations like coffee shops, the library, or the campus store. Picture yourself as a student. How does it feel to walk on campus? Your unguided tour might be the deciding factor when it comes time to choose a college.
7. Visit Your Future Academic Department (or Wander into a Few!)
If you already know your major, find out if the department offers information sessions or allows you to sit in on a class. If you’re still deciding on a major, check out a few departments that interest you. Talk with students in the departments and find out what they like most about their major and if they have any insight they’d like to share.
8. Eat a Meal (or Two!) On and Off Campus
Food is a huge part of the campus experience. Many larger campuses offer multiple restaurants, dining facilities, and grab-and-go options. Ask students about their favorite places to eat on campus and the local favorites off campus. You’re going to eat a lot of meals. Make sure you like the options!
9. Spend Time Around Town
Do you like big cities or small towns? Check out the area that surrounds the school. Find some local coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants. Do a vibe check. You’ll spend a lot of time in the town around your college.
10. Have Fun!
Choosing a college should be fun! While it’s important the school offers the academics you need for your future career, don’t forget college is also about the experience. This new chapter should be exciting. Delight in the process and enjoy the ride!