When you visit a college for the first time, it should give you a good idea of what going to school there will be like. Everything from where you will live to where you will go to class will be covered in your tour. Each college will offer different opportunities and amenities, so you will want to be sure you choose the right campus for your goals and lifestyle.
Make a checklist of things that are important to you
Before you go on your campus tour, make a checklist of what is important to you to have at college. For example, you may want there be an on-campus gym or pool, or you may be more interested in greek life or the quality of the dorms. Whatever your goals are, make a checklist for each campus tour you got on so you can look back on it and remember what the school has to offer. Also, be sure to write down questions you have about the campus and take notes during your tour.
Take advantage of the tour guide's knowledge
When you go on your tour, be sure to utilize your tour guide’s knowledge of the campus to your own advantage. Ask them questions about what is on campus, how student life is, and what students at the college do in their free time. Ask them about the quality of professors and any potential downfalls they see about the campus. Any insight into the campus that the tour guide can give you will help give you a good idea what it’s like to go to school there.
Stay a night on campus if possible
If you have the opportunity, it can be a good idea to stay a night on campus with other students. This will give you a good idea of how student life really is, away from your parents and in the company of other students. While it will help you make your decision on which college you want to attend, it will also be a lot of fun hanging out with other students who could become friends in the future.
Visit your major's department and speak to a professor
If your campus tour doesn’t give you the time to visit your major’s department and speak with one of your potential future professors, make sure that you do it on your own time. While the college may have all of the outside-of-class opportunities, the main thing that actually matters is the quality of education you will receive. Another good idea is to call in advance and schedule an appointment with a professor so you can sit down with them and ask questions about the department, and possibly even attend one of their classes.
Speak to current college students
When you get the time during the tour, go speak to random college students who are on campus. The current students won’t mind answering a couple of your questions, and they will likely be more honest with you about campus life than your tour guide and advisors.
Visit the campus social scene
Why go off-campus to have lunch when you can eat the food in the cafeteria and people watch. It may not be very important to you, but the quality of food can certainly make a difference to ensure you are getting enough nutrients for your growing and soon-to-be overworked brain. Check out other parts of the campus that will give you a good idea of what it’s like to be a student. This includes attending a college sporting event, going to the student lounge, walking around where students hang out in their free time, and spending some time in the library.
Document your campus tour
It can be easy to forget what you experienced on the campus tour, so document your time at each college. Take pictures with your phone of the campus and classrooms, jot down notes in regards to things that stuck out, and ask the person who goes with you on the tour to do the same so you can compare notes and get another person’s perspective. Also, don’t just jot down the good, make sure to also take note of the bad things about the campus.
A campus tour is a great way to get a feel for what college life will be at a particular university before you decide to attend. Each campus will offer different things, so you will have to weigh the pros and cons of each before deciding where to go. Transferring colleges in the middle of your academic career can sometimes be difficult, so you want to be sure the college you choose is the right one for you.