College visits are an exciting part of the high school experience. As a senior in high school, you’re making a big decision that will impact your future. You might have friends starting to wear shirts showcasing where they’ve chosen to attend. There’s pressure to make the right decision. From academic majors to dorms to dining halls, there’s a lot to consider when deciding what college to attend.
One way to help narrow your options is by taking a campus tour. They provide information that you can’t find online. However, with a bunch of questions already in mind, it’s easy to get overwhelmed before you even step on campus. Before embarking on your next college visit, read this article to learn five must-do items to prepare. Being ready for your tour can help ease some of that anxiety.
1. Do Your Research
Visiting a college campus for the first time can be daunting. With so many sights and so much information to take in, questions sometimes go unanswered. If you’re on a group campus tour, you may be competing to get your questions answered. According to High Point University, creating a college tour checklist can help you make the most out of your visit.
Ask them what they wish they would have known before choosing their college. Maybe they would have asked to learn more about academic advisers or the dorms they’d be living in. Start by making one big checklist and see what questions you can answer from the school’s website. Then, make a list of your unanswered questions to ask when you get to campus.
2. Examine the Academics
Deciding a major can be exciting and terrifying. Luckily, there are great resources to help students determine their academic path, says USNews. Some colleges will have skills assessments available to incoming freshmen. If you’re not sure what you want to study, talk to your admissions counselor about potential majors. You don’t want to waste your time if the university doesn’t have a program you’re interested in.
In addition to choosing a major, students should examine how they learn best. To some, sitting in a lecture hall with 200 other students sounds ideal. To others, having a small student to teacher ratio is more important. Colleges typically post their class sizes on their website. Prior to your campus visit, see what information is available to you regarding class size limits.
3. Ask About Financial Aid
When deciding which colleges to apply to, students examine a variety of factors (more details). However, cost is often an important element of the decision process. Preparing for your college visit may look like researching what financial aid is available to you. Whether it be federal aid, academic-based scholarships, grants, or loans, paying for college is usually complicated.
Some state-funded scholarships are only applicable to specific colleges and universities. For example, in Missouri the A+ Scholarship Program only applies to community colleges and vocational schools. However, some four-year universities offer competing scholarships for A+ eligible students. If your state has a similar program that you’re eligible for, ask how it will apply to your tuition. Asking about financial aid and payment plans is a must committing to a university..
4. Tour the Facilities
Moving away from home for the first time can be exhilarating and nerve-wrecking. When visiting campus, you’ll want to see a dorm and the dining halls. Touring these spaces while you’re on campus is so much better than looking at photos online. Take time before your tour to know what’s important to you. If a community-style bathroom is your worst nightmare, ask about Jack and Jill style suites. These residence halls have a bathroom in-between two rooms, typically shared by two or four total residents.
Visiting the dining halls can give you an idea of the food you’ll be eating for the next four years. Think about how many meals you’ll eat on campus during that time! Having quality food options will make life easier. While you’re touring these buildings, ask to see student hangout spaces and recreational facilities. You can even ask to tour a classroom.
5. Talk to Career Services
Going to college is usually driven by career aspirations, and there are resources on campus to help you reach your goals. The career services office can make a great impact on your success post-grad. In fact, Students who utilize career services while on campus are more likely to receive a job offer after graduation. Career development offices are known for their ability to connect students and employers.
Quality career services departments will have a variety of programs. These may include professional development workshops, career and internship fairs, and individualized career coaching. The office may have job shadow or mentorship programs. They may even give students access to free professional clothing, headshots, and quality paper for printing resumes. While on your tour, ask to learn more about this department and what services they offer.
College visits are sometimes treated as a one-size-fits-all experience. You show up and meet with an admissions counselor. You go on a tour of campus, maybe grab a meal on-site. Then, you head home. Usually, there’s not much personalization. However, schools will sometimes have personalized tour options.
If you have specific requests, send an email to your admissions counselor after you schedule the tour. You will want to make the most of your time, especially if you’ve driven many hours to get there. Preparing in advance for your tour can create a seamless visit. With your list of questions in hand, you can feel confident as you walk on campus. You and your family will leave knowledgeable and ready to make the best college decision.
Last Updated: October 18, 2022