Let's be honest, most college tours are standardized. The tour guides, though students, are most likely employed by the admissions department at the college and therefore are given instructions on what to do and say on the tours.
While the information on tours is helpful, there is so much more to know about a school, especially if you’re seriously thinking about attending. If you want more out of a campus tour, it’s up to you!
Here are some guidelines and tips on how to take your visit out of the mundane and pump in more value.
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The entire process is overwhelming and there’s a lot you’ll want to remember once you get home from your visit.
You don’t need to write down every little thing, but try to jot down any noteworthy items you’d like to remember that may be helpful in the future while making your college admissions decision.
Stay by the guide.
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This will ensure you don’t miss any tidbits he or she shares, plus you’ll be close enough to ask any conversational questions that may arise during the tour.
It can be intimidating to ask questions while on a tour but, it’s often a lot less daunting if you’re within earshot of the guide.
Taste the campus food.
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This is the sustenance you’ll likely be living off of, so make sure you’re able to deal with it!
Explore the campus with (and without) your parents, but definitely apart from the general confines of the tour.
Students should see more than just the school’s landmark buildings and get a sense of what the school’s atmosphere is like apart from what the admissions office is showcasing. It’s the most accurate way to see the campus from a student’s perspective without actually being a student.
Talk to students.
Try to speak to students other than your student tour guides. They will likely be the most candid regarding their experiences with the admission process, the school in general, the professors, as well as any other questions or concerns you may have, especially since they aren't employed by the admissions department.
Schedule any necessary meetings.
Meet with financial aid and/or admissions officers while on campus. It’s easy to schedule and it will be helpful to get the questions answered sooner than later.
Stay the night, rather than just attending for a more traditional two to three hour tour. You’ll meet more students; get a feel for dorm living and you will likely get to taste the food as well.
Keep in mind, though, if you aren't best friends with your host, it’s not the end of the world. There will be tons of students on campus that you will have a lot in common with – so make the most of the situation and try to learn about the college in terms of academics and any other general questions you may have.
Try to sit in on a class or two to get a feel for the size, teaching methods and styles of the classes you’ll be taking. That way, you’ll be able to accurately judge if the school offers the right academic environment for you.
What other tips are valuable to utilize on campus visits?