When I started looking at colleges in 2008, I went to 3 college fairs, completed multiple searches on CollegeBoard.com and visited over 10 colleges. However, the deciding moment came when I stepped on the Quad at Gardner-Webb for a college campus tour. We weren’t even 5 minutes in to the tour, had only visited the admissions building. Just walking around the campus and hearing the tour guide talk about her freshman, I knew I wanted to go there.
The college tour can make or break your decision
Just as I knew Gardner-Webb was the college I wanted to go to, visiting Flagler College had the complete opposite effect for me. The energy and atmosphere just didn’t fit for me. I knew it right away.
Looking at a college’s brochure, website, Princeton review or fast facts sheet can be very helpful. But, being able to get on campus and experience college life for yourself is the ultimate test.
Visiting a college campus allows you to see what life could be like: the type of friends you could make, the exciting classes you could take, the intramural sports you could play. It’s all there.
You’ve got the power!
The admissions application, essay and interview are all a time for the college to decide if you would fit with them. You sell yourself to them. A college campus tour flips the switch and puts the power in your hands. It’s the college’s time to sell itself to you.
So be prepared for the campus tour. Know what you want to achieve from the experience, whether it be better insight into dorm life or a more thorough understanding of a typical day on campus.
To help you prepare, we’ve compiled our top 10 questions to ask on a college campus tour.
Ask about academics, but stay away from information available online
- What places on campus do students study?
- What unique opportunities does the school offer?
- What does it take to graduate in four years?
- Who is one of your favorite professors and why?
- How does the college help graduates seeking careers?
Get a sense of the community and social life
- How does the college ensure freshmen adjust well socially and academically?
- What are some of your favorite campus traditions?
- Are there any things that the majority of students have in common?
- What are the most prominent clubs or activities on campus?
- What is the difference in campus life between the week and weekend? Do many students go home on the weekend? What did you do last weekend?
Take advantage of the tour guide’s first-hand knowledge
Stay away from broad, generalized questions and really dig deep to get some answers. Make sure to ask about your tour guides personal experience at the school, what factors made them decide to attend there, and specific experiences with professors or school activities. Stay away from asking personal questions, such as their GPA or SAT/ACT scores.
The area around the college is almost as important as the college itself. If you are unfamiliar with the area, ask about weather, the local town and any major cites close by.
Going beyond a typical college campus tour
The tour is a great place to start getting an idea of the college’s liveliness and diversity, but it is only the beginning. Ask to sit in on a class, talk to a professor in your desired major, have lunch in the Caf or talk with other students. Some colleges will even let you set you up with a student to spend the night in a dorm. The more you immerse yourself in the college experience, the better prepared you will be for making a final decision.
Signing up for a Blueprint Summer Program at one of your top colleges is another great way to narrow down the decision. Not only will you receive a campus tour, you will also be able to stay in a dorm, use campus facilities and eat cafeteria food (which, let’s face it, is a major deciding factor).