It’s the season of endless high school students wandering around a number of campuses in hopes of finding their dream school! As a freshman, I am all too familiar with college tours and expectations that I have for a school. After the third or fourth tour, all the schools start to look exactly the same, and you can easily become overwhelmed with a number of different choices. Personally, I toured six schools before finding my home at The College of New Jersey. When touring schools, there are a bunch of things to keep in mind to make you the most comfortable if you end up attending school there. Here is the perfect checklist to keep in mind on every college tour:
1. Is it close or far enough from home?
From the beginning, you have to decide if you want to be far away from home or if you would like to be closer to home. Being far away from home can be fun because you’re completely independent, but when you become homesick it is pretty difficult to sooth the feeling of missing your family. Being close to home isn’t the worst thing in the world; you can go home when you feel like it, but you’re not still living at home.
2. Is it a big school or a small school?
This is another thing that is crucial to discover before touring schools! You have to decide if you would rather be in giant lecture halls with 200 people or if you prefer a regular classroom setting with around 30 students. Getting to know professors can be extremely hard when you’re in a classroom with 200 other people, but you’ll make a lot of different friends if you attend a large school.
3. Does the school have good dining options?
I cannot stress this enough. You are going to be eating at the dining hall every single day, possibly multiple times a day, for a minimum of 1 year. Make sure that you like the food and that there is something you can always eat! You will be miserable if you have nothing you enjoy eating.
4. Are there good student vibes on campus?
Look around while you’re on the campus! Do the students look like people you could be friends with? Do people look like they’re having fun there? You might struggle to find friends if your campus doesn’t match up with your personality. Also, you want a campus where people actually look like they are enjoying themselves.
5. Are the dorms livable for me?
Make sure the dorms are something you would be okay with living in for a year. If communal bathrooms are not your thing, then don’t pick a school that has them. If you don’t do well in the heat, make sure your dorms have air conditioning. You don’t want the dorms to be something you just “put up with;” remember this is going to be your second home!
6. Is there a lot of student involvement?
You’re going to hear this about a million times during your freshman year of college. Get involved! Make sure that there are some type of clubs or organizations that you would be interested in joining. Joining clubs and organizations are some of the best ways to meet people with the same interests as you.
7. Can I handle the laundry situation?
It’s going to get annoying, really fast, when you have to carry your dirty clothes from the 10th floor to the basement to find out there are no open washing machines. Laundry is something that you must learn how to do in order to become a partial “adult,” so make sure it’s something you can handle. Do you have to pay for laundry? Can you use your own detergent and softeners? Where are the rooms located? These are important questions to be asking.
8. Do they have my specific major and how well established is the program?
Go to a school that has your specific major. You don’t want to be stuck switching your plan to be in line with what a school has to offer. After all, you are going to the school to get a degree in your dream major. You want a school that has a well-established program for what you plan on doing. You are paying a lot of money for the program, so make it worth your while!
9. Can freshmen bring a car on campus?
I highly do not recommend bringing a car on campus freshman year! You will very quickly find yourself at home every weekend, just because you can drive there. Also, you will become the taxi service for all your friends who do not have a car on campus. However, if having a car is a must, then make sure the school can provide that for you.
10. Can I see myself going here and loving it?
This is the most important question. Go to a school that you love with all your heart. The first time I stepped onto my campus, I knew it was where I wanted to go. You should be able to envision yourself going to the classes and living there. If you don’t get an excited feeling about being on the campus, then it’s not your college.
I hope this little checklist helps all incoming freshmen decide where they would like to attend. Choosing a college can be extremely overwhelming and can be a strenuous process. With the correct support and knowledge about college hunting, the process can be a lot easier. Remember to always focus on yourself and your personal goals, not where other people are attending school. Not to scare you, but the school you chose influences the rest of your life. Happy hunting!