Whether the college you’re visiting is across town or across the country, there are many valuable things you can learn from a campus tour. Here’s the guide to make sure you get the most out of your college visit.
1. Pay Attention.
Listen up: there’s a reason your tour guide was picked to lead you and thousands of other prospective students around campus. He or she is representative of the student body, and they have important things to say to you. So, put down the cell phone, turn off the Ipod, and listen to what your guide is saying.
2. Check out a class.
Alright. Although you may be more concerned right now with the social life you’ll enjoy while in college, the main reason you are going to university is to get an education. Many colleges offer you the option of dropping in on a class, and I advise you to take advantage of that. Are the classes small, or humongous? Is the professor involved and interesting, or is the class taught by a graduate student who could care less? This is valuable information that can majorly impact your college experience.
3. If you can, spend the night.
The best way to get a feel for life on campus is to spend the night with a student in the dorm. Most colleges will be more than happy to hook you up with a student willing to let you spend the night, and they will often pair you with a student in your intended major. By spending the night, you’ll get to know some of the students, and ask more in-depth questions like the best and worst things at that school, and the reality of the work load and social scene.
4. Scope out the clubs.
No, not that type of club. Chances are, you won’t spend all of your time at college in the classroom or studying. You’re going to want to get involved in student organizations to experience new things and to meet new people. The best way to get connected is to be a member of a club. So, while you’re on campus check out what kinds of clubs are available. Look at the bulletin boards around campus, too. Do the events appeal to you?
5. Pick up a paper.
Campus newspapers will be readily available–pick one up and read it. See what’s important enough to make the news on campus. Is it politically active, or apathetic? Does it seem like the students have a lot of issues with the administration? Many interesting tidbits can be gained from reading the campus newspaper.
6. Get lost.
Go exploring around campus. Wander into some of the different buildings. Observe the architecture and landscaping. Is this an urban, concrete environment, or one surrounded by trees and wooded bike trails? And literally, get lost. Then take the opportunity to stop a student and ask for directions. Are the students helpful and informative? A good thing to know.
7. Ask questions.
Remember throughout the entire campus visit to ask questions as they arise but also, have a few questions prepared before you get there. My favorite: Is there an on-campus living requirement? Lots of schools require students to live on campus for varying lengths of time, from the first year through all four. Knowing this can help you make your college decision. After all, how long are you willing to live in the dorm? Which brings me to my next point…
8. See a dorm.
Make sure while you’re on campus that you tour one of the dorms, especially if you are not spending the night with a student. Some schools include a dorm tour in their regular tours, while others require you to make a separate appointment. It’s important to see a dorm, because you’ll be living there at least during your freshman year. Check it out–are the dorms warm and cozy, or sterile and modern? Do they remind you of dungeons? Good things to keep in mind.
9. Grab a bite to eat.
Check out the campus dining hall/options. Although the food might not be the deciding factor when making your college decision, a great (or terrible) meal can certainly color your impression of a certain school. And consider this: on-campus dining options can have an impact on you. If you don’t think you’ll be able to survive unless there’s a Starbuck’s within walking distance of all your classes and your dorm, make sure there is a plentiful supply of them on campus.
10. Investigate the surroundings.
You won’t spend all of your time on campus. So, take an opportunity to investigate what the surrounding city (or lack there of ) is like. Is it a booming metropolis with plenty of cultural opportunities, or is this college situated in the middle of a cornfield? Is there a high crime rate? And, what’s the weather like through all of the seasons? If you’re a Floridian, moving to Minnesota for college and experiencing the snows may come as a major shock, so make sure you’re prepared for everything.
So there you have it! My tips for making the most out of your college visits. Hope you find them helpful, and happy college hunting!