The standard college tour is great – but it may not give you as much insight on student life and academics at a school. Most schools allow visiting students to do these, but a lot of students aren’t aware that they can go beyond the typical campus tour.
The typical tour covers the basics like walking the campus and checking out dorms, but if you want to know what it’s actually like to attend the school, see if you can arrange to accomplish the following items on your visit.
Keep in mind that, with any of these options, it’s important to contact a school’s recruitment office to get help setting up an official visit – some schools have certain criteria that needs to be followed and you don’t want to get a bad reputation by breaking the rules before you even attend the school!
To get help arranging these to-dos, contact a college’s recruitment or admissions office and they’ll help you make the most of your college tour experience. Here are eight experiences to look into arranging over college visits:
1. Plan an overnight visit
Many schools will allow prospective students to arrange an overnight visit, where you can stay in a dorm with a current student. This will help you see what student life is really like in the dorms and will give you a preview of what attending the school as a freshman would be like. You want to ensure you get the full college experience and this is one way to help you do so.
2. Try the dining hall food
Perhaps you can do this on your overnight visit or during a campus tour but, if you’re going to be potentially living there, you want to ensure you’re okay with the quality of the food. Since most freshmen rely on meal plans, it’s a smart way to test the waters.
3. Shadow a student for a day
A college’s recruitment office can help you arrange to shadow a student for a day. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of “a day in the life,” and, since it’s kind of like your own private tour, you’ll likely see a lot more than you would on a standard college tour.
4. Check out some college clubs you may be interested in
If extracurricular activities are important to you, sit in on some college club meetings you find interesting. In addition to helping you evaluate the campus clubs, you’ll gain insight into the type of students at the school and what the environment is like to help you decide whether or not you’d feel comfortable there.
5. Sit in on some classes
Academics are clearly the bread and butter of a great college but factors like course size, faculty and teaching styles can make a huge difference depending on the type of learner you are. Ask to sit in on a required freshman course to get an idea of what your first year would be like. Also, if you have an idea of what you’d like to study, sit in on class within that department.
6. Meet students and faculty in your prospective major
When you’re visiting a school, visiting the departments of specific majors you’re considering can be a great resource. There, you can speak to professors and students within that department to hear what they have to say about the school, specific major programs and anything else you’re curious about.
7. Visit at different times
A school's environment can be drastically different based on the timing of the week, day or, even, season. Try to visit the college you're considering more than once, if possible, and at different times of the week or year. Ideally, it's helpful to get an idea of what the campus is like during a weekday and on weekends.
8. Head off-campus
While you're likely going to be on campus most of the time while you're a student, it's worthwhile to check out the areas surrounding campus. Check out the local attractions and see what it's like to wander off campus, considering what type of things there are to do, transportation options and, of course, survey how safe the areas are.
You can even schedule a tour of an off-campus apartment, house or Greek organizations if you're not going to live in the residence halls the entire time you're a student to see if you like the outlook of your options.