Campus Visit 101: A high school student’s guide to getting the most out of a college tour

Spring is in the air, and that means it’s college campus tour season. Narrowing down your college choices can be hard. Campus visits can help you determine what college is the perfect fit for you.

While some of your friends may already know exactly where they plan to go after high school, rest assured that the majority of your fellow peers are still undecided. Participating in a college tour will help you get to know a school and its offerings; including degree programs, professors, dorm rooms, student life and more.  To help you get the most out of your upcoming campus visits, check out these tips:

Visit during your junior year
It’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to explore colleges and find the perfect fit. Make a point to visit campuses during your junior year. This will allow you to focus on college applications as you head into your senior year – leaving you plenty of time to meet application deadlines and make some important decisions.

Schedule a visit while classes are still in session
Although you might have more free time to visit over a school break, this may not allow you to get a true feel for what campus life may look like at a school. Some campus buildings may even be closed during breaks. Try to schedule your visit when classes are in session to get a feel for what the daily student experience may look like at each campus.

Sign up for the official campus tour
This may seem like a no-brainer, but instead of exploring campus on your own, get scheduled to take a guided tour. Knowledgeable tour guides will be able to highlight what is really important to know about campus. Tour guides are often college students themselves; this also gives you the opportunity to ask current students any questions such as what they like about their classes, living on campus or even how to get involved in extracurriculars.

Ask even more questions, and take lots of notes
Every college has something different to offer. Asking questions during the tour will help you narrow down your choices. Make sure you take notes about what you like and don’t like – this could end up being the deciding factor in your choice.

Then, take your own unguided tour
After a guided campus tour, go out and explore some more on your own. Did you stop by any place during your guided tour that you want to find out more about? Is there anything else you are left wondering about? Leave time to walk around the campus with no agenda – you might discover something about the campus that makes you fall in love with it.

Eat a meal on campus
If you are planning to live on campus, trying the food is a must. Find out where the best place to eat on campus is and enjoy a meal there. Not sure where to start? Ask your tour guide or stop a student walking around and ask where they would recommend eating. It is important to make sure that you like the food – even if you may still miss a home-cooked meal from time to time.

Explore the facilities
Visit the dorm rooms, sit in on a class and check out the library — some of this may even be included in your guided tour. Make sure you visit every place that you expect to spend your time at. Pro tip: Ask the tour guide where students hang out and visit those locations as well. This will give you a real feel for life on campus.

Get information on campus safety
Choosing a safe campus is incredibly important. Not only will finding a safe school gives your family peace of mind, but it will also allow you to focus on your schoolwork and feel comfortable in your new environment. Ask the hard questions — Do all students on campus generally feel safe? Is there a campus shuttle service? What measures does campus security take to enforce safety precautions?

Sit in on an information session
College information sessions are short sessions run by an admissions team member to give you general facts about the school or program of interest. These are super helpful in narrowing down your college choices because you can learn a lot in a short amount of time.

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