Here are a few tips for your students on what to look for during a campus visit and how to make their college decision a little easier.
It’s a daunting task trying to decide on the college or university where you should spend the next four years. Everyone always says that “college is the best time of your life.” So how do you make sure that you don’t spend the best time at the wrong school?
One way to make a better choice is to make the most out of your college tour. However, it can be difficult to determine whether a particular campus is the right school for you by a mere two-hour tour. Plus, after a while, all those visits start to blend together, and it can be hard to keep track of each school’s pros and cons. That is why it is important to know what to look for and what to do on each college tour to ensure it is the right fit for you.
Visit on a school day
First off, if possible, schedule a tour on a day that students have classes. You will have to miss a day of high school (such a bummer!), but it’s hard to judge a campus when it is a ghost town. When you go on a school day, you will see different student organizations’ booths set up, the activities students participate in between classes, and even students’ favorite places to study and relax. It’s a lot easier to judge the feel of a school when you get a preview of what a typical school day may look like.
Have lunch in the cafeteria
You should take advantage of the free meal and eat in the cafeteria. This way, you will get to see how the food is and even talk to current students eating there, too. When you are in the cafeteria, ask students what they like and dislike about their school, why they choose to go there, what fun things there are to do on the weekend in town, what opportunities are out there for students inside and outside of the classroom, what the best residence hall is, and what some fun traditions are. It might be nerve-racking asking to eat with college students when you’re still in high school, but most students will be happy to help you out—if not, that’s a red flag. They will be honest and not try to “sell” you on the school. Plus, they’re going to tell you things that the website or brochure may not—for example, what are students’ go-to places on the weekends or the best place to get something to eat late at night.
Go on your own campus tour
After the tour, go look around campus again. If there was something that really interested you on the tour, visit it and spend more time there. For instance, go back to the gym, and ask how many pick-up basketball games there are in a week, or go back to the school’s art exhibit, and find out more about each work and the art program. There is no way you can fully experience the school in a day, but if you take your time and go back through it on your own, you will have a better idea whether it is the proper fit for you.
Be a student for a day
If you have the option, stay the night, and attend a class or two. This can’t be emphasized enough! When you stay in a residence hall, you will truly get an idea of the school’s culture. You will hear what students talk about, go to their typical hangout spots, and see what it’s like to be a student there. When you audit a class or two that interest you, you will have a better understanding of what the classroom dynamics are like, such as whether it’s discussion-based, the types of assignments you will receive, and what questions current students are asking in class.
When it comes time to finally choose a college, it can be overwhelming yet exciting. It will be where you call “home” for the next four years and where you will make lifelong memories. More than that, it will lay the foundation for your personal and intellectual growth. If you make the most of your college tour and carefully weigh your options, choosing the right school for yourself should be easier, and you can rest easy knowing that you will be at the right place.