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So, you’re about to graduate high school and looking for the right college for you. You may have already received offer packages from multiple universities, tuition is about the same, and they all have an equal amount of pros and cons to their academic departments. Congratulations on getting this far! But how do you make your final decision?

Going to college isn’t just about academics and sports, it is also about getting the true college experience. From meeting new people to finding out what it means to be an adult, you will want to choose a campus that offers you opportunities that you have never been presented with before. Sure, you need to study hard and get the best grades possible, but what’s college without a little bit of fun and getting outside of your comfort zone?

Campus tour

You’re going to see the best of the best of the campus when you do a campus tour. Your tour guide will take you around the highlights of the campus and show you where everything is for first time students. This is great, and you definitely should do a campus tour before you attend, but you should also venture outside of it to really get a sense of college life on that campus.

What are the students doing? Are they hanging out in the commons, studying on the grass, playing music under a shady tree? Do they look stressed or like they are enjoying themselves? Do they look inviting or does it look like there are cliques? What the students are doing without the tour guide’s filtered view will help you understand how campus life really is. If there are a bunch of students biking, playing games, and walking around conversing, it may indicate that students actually enjoy going to that school.

What about the campus grounds? Do they look like they are kept up well? Is the grass green with no trash laying around? Do the buildings look nice and not confusing to find a classroom? Is there a place to study? How is the campus security – campus cops and plenty of lighting at night?

These are all things you want to keep in mind when visiting a campus. Another thing to look out for is type of food available in and outside of the cafeteria. This is usually a good indicator of how happy you will be on your lunch breaks and around dinner time.

Dorm Rooms

One of the main things to look at in the dorm rooms is how clean it is in and around the building. Is there a lot of trash laying around? You’ll likely have community showers – can you see yourself using them?

How is the noise when you visit? If you can, try to visit them during the nighttime as well, especially on the weekends as this can be when students get rowdy. There isn’t anything worse than trying to get enough sleep before a test when your neighbor is blasting their music.

Keep an eye on the other students in the building too? Is it male or female only or is it a unisex dorm? Do students hangout in the hallways or keep their doors open? Having friendly dorm-mates is a must for making your college experience pleasurable.

Personality types of other students

This can be hard to tell, but you’ll want to be observant to the types of students on campus. You don’t want to generalize or stereotype, but this can help you understand the types of people you will be going to class with. Is there a huge age range in students? Are there people who look approachable as someone you might hang out with? Do they all seem to be doing the same types of activities and wearing their school pride? How well the campus makes their students proud of attending is usually an indicator that you will feel proud of attending their as well.

Leisurely activities

This was noted above, but you’ll want to see what students are doing in their leisure time and if they are activities that you would enjoy as well. Granted, there are going to be all types of students on every campus, but you want to be sure you see at least some people of the same ilk as you so you aren’t hunting for friends or hanging out by yourself doing things you enjoy.

There is so much to consider when visiting a campus, both on and off the campus tour. Keep in mind it is a place you are going to live at for a large part of your life, especially if you decide to stay in the dorms for your whole college career. Be diligent about you observations and choose the college campus that’s right for you. Enjoying where you live will make succeeding so much easier.