For those of you who have begun the college tour process, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it can be overwhelming. After visiting your 4th or 5th campus, the details of each seem to blend together. As someone who has already experienced college tours, and undergone their freshman year of college, I’m here to bring you suggestions for going on college tours.
While taking your tour, take notes on the aspects of the school that you like and dislike, and ask questions. Taking notes will help you to distinguish between schools when it comes time to apply.
There are no stupid questions. If you have a question about any part of college life or academia, ask away! Here are some examples to get you started:
- Do people stay on campus during the weekend?
- Is religion an integral part of campus? If so, are you ok with that?
- If you want to avoid drugs and alcohol, do they have alcohol-free dorms?
- What are some of the clubs and activities that the school offers?
- Are students safe on campus? Are students safe off campus?
Try the Cafeteria Food
If the school allows for it, eat a meal at the main dining hall. If you end up going to school here, you will probably be eating at this dining hall at least once a day, so you should make sure that the food is up to par. Many schools provide students on tours with a free meal in the main dining hall, which is both cheap, and informative!
Note the Social Feel
Are students hanging out on the lawn on a sunny day? Do students eat a slow lunch with their friends, or sit by themselves and eat while they study? Questions such as these will provide insight as to how sociable the students are. In addition to that, note the nearby area. Are there things to do off campus or does all entertainment take place on campus?
Observe the Freshman Dorms
You may be living in one of these buildings a year from now, so be sure to take a look at as many of the freshman dorm buildings as possible. Are the rooms nice? Do they have individual or communal bathrooms? Do they have study lounges?
Consider the Facilities that they Don’t Show You
If you take an official tour, the tour guide will only show you bits and pieces of the school – the bits and pieces that the school wants you to see, such as the gym, library, dorm buildings, or classrooms. While taking the tour, think of any facilities that the school doesn’t show you to get a better feel for the campus.
Note the Weather
You may be fortunate enough to visit a college on a beautiful sunny day and see students tanning or playing Frisbee on the lawn. However, just because the weather is nice today doesn’t mean that it will always be this nice. For example, Vermont is beautiful in the summer and fall, but, if you’re used to warm weather, then you’ll be miserable in the winter. As a general rule, consider the area that the school is located in, and picture what the school will be like on the most miserable day of the year. Is this still the “perfect school?”
Above all, it is important to note that no school is perfect. When looking at schools, keep in mind that you will have to sacrifice certain priorities for others. For example, you may not be able to have a small school with a good football team. Be realistic, and consider what aspects your college needs to have. Aside from those absolute necessities, be flexible.