College Tours: Picking the Right Fit
By Kristen Jumes
Tours are one of the most exciting parts of the college application process! Visiting campuses, discovering some of the programs they offer, and talking to a few current students will only help you as you figure out what you want and don’t want from your college experience. Yet, with so much to see and so little time on a tour, it’s easy to walk away feeling like you didn’t get the most out of your visit. This was true for me on my first college tour to what became my new home for the next four years: Tulane University. While I’m more than satisfied with my choice, there are a few things I missed on my tour that I wanted to share. Hopefully these three tips will help you through the exciting yet overwhelming world of college tours!
Even if You Know it’s the One, Still Visit. It’s completely okay to know what you like or dislike, but college visits only give you more knowledge to figure all of that out. That dream school may be everything you imagined- or nothing like it at all. Go see for yourself! You’ll only fall more in love or realize it’s not all that you made it out to be and save yourself from four years of unmet expectations. Even if you’re unable to go in-person, schedule a virtual tour to get a feel for the institution.
Don’t be 100% Academics. A campus is more than a classroom. While it is important to select a school with programs that fit your interests and that you believe will challenge you to grow academically, pay attention to other factors on your visit. You spend much of your college life studying and growing intellectually, but your college experience is also about the town you’re in, people you’re around, clubs you’ll join, and memories you’re going to make. You don’t spend all your time in college in the classroom, so don’t spend all of your tour thinking about the academic prestige or great figures the university tries to sell you. These are important, but so is your work-life balance. Pay attention to the scenery, students interactions, and unique clubs and activities on-campus.
Talk to Students. One regret I had while touring was not asking enough questions. From tour guides to those students friendly enough to chat for a moment, asking questions only gives you greater insights into campus culture, academics, and student life. Don’t be afraid to ask students what they love and what they hate. Things they think their campus does well and things it does not. The more students you get to know, the more you’ll discover about the school.
I hope that you find these tips helpful as you schedule your college tours- especially with the added obstacle of the pandemic. This is an exciting time of exploration and preparing for the next step in your life!