As a tour guide at my school, I believe everything we have to say is crucial and I can’t possibly understand how anyone on the tour could stop paying attention… but I guess it happens. (And the truth is, I get it. I’ve been there!)
While visiting so many colleges at once, it’s easy to tune out the admissions officer at the front of the room and to forget what you liked about which school. Despite how easy it is to clock out with a monotonous lecturer spewing out facts, there are some things that you need to tune into.
1. Anything related to your major
Maybe you have an idea of what you want to study, maybe you don’t (which is perfectly fine, most people don’t when they're in high school!). If you go into a college tour with a general idea of what you would like to study, make sure to listen when it comes up or don’t be shy about asking questions. That’s what the admissions officers and tour guides are there for! If you plan to enroll as a theater major, make sure you are paying attention when they discuss theater professors, facilities, advisor and activities. If you have no idea what you want to do, ask when you would have to declare your major by and find out information about the college’s undeclared program.
2. Equipment and school facilities
During the tour, take in the state of the buildings on campus. When given a tour of the freshman dorm, picture yourself living there. Picture yourself going to the library to study. Is it a place that is conducive to productivity for you? Is the student center a place you would utilize? Ask about printing services and computer labs. If you’re looking to be an architecture major, do you need to buy all of the programs necessary or do computers on campus have them already? You’re going to be at a college for four years, so these little things do add up!
3. Pace of campus
Some people need the buildings and concrete of New York City. Others need the mountains of Colorado Springs. As you’re walking around campus, see if you can picture yourself doing what students on campus are. See if they’re mainly studying or lounging around. Are they rushing to class or does the atmosphere seem mellow? Are students by themselves or hanging out with friends? This is something you won’t learn in an information session, but must be gathered through your own personal opinions by walking around the campus.
4. What activities are offered
If you get a tour guide who knows about every single organization on campus, let us know so we can praise them. Your tour guide should, however, know how many organizations are on campus and the percentage of Greek life on campus. Ask your tour guide how easy it is to start your own group on campus, if that might be something you're interested in. You can get an idea of how vibrant a community is through its activities and their presence on campus.
People seem to forget about food while on campus. Don’t expect a five-star meal eating at an on-campus dining hall, but is the quality of food something you will be able to eat for the next couple of years? How many dining options does your school offer on-campus and what is close by off-campus? Seeing as food is essential to your survival, you don’t want to pick a school with food you couldn’t even handle for one meal. Pay attention when your tour guide talks about the school’s meal plan. While some colleges provide a certain number of meals per week, others give a set number of meals for the semester or year. Others use meal swipes, but sometimes it’s an allotted amount of money. Find out how the school’s dining hall works and if it is something you can follow.
6. Residential and social life
Although it is hard to grasp the actual feeling during the tour, your tour guide should mention some activities set up for dorms or even the entire campus. Are you looking for a community within your dorm? What types of events are held for the students to meet each other? While walking around on campus, notice if people are in groups and socializing. Outside your dorm, what is available on campus to help meet others?
Remember to take notes throughout the day to keep all the schools you visit straight. Enjoy your college tours!