Choosing a college is a big decision to make, and you likely have many questions. You’re going to have to look at tuition and academic programs. But despite what your parents might say, there’s more to the college experience. You’ll probably want to get involved with clubs, maybe Greek life, and you have to find a place where you can grow into an intelligent young adult.
You may have to move cities. Your interests might evolve. College is about change and growth. It can be intimidating to make a decision that will set your life on a particular course. And it can seem overwhelming to know where to start. Touring college campuses is a great place to begin, but you need to make the most of your time. Before you stress too much, learn about the most important details to note when touring a college campus.
Booking a college visit is all about getting to campus and experiencing what life would be like if you chose to attend. If you have a few options within your price range with programs you’re interested in, a tour can be a tiebreaker. You can set this up by calling an institution’s office of admissions. The university may also have a webpage that will direct you through the process of booking a campus tour.
Keep track of information provided during your campus tour, and don’t be afraid to take notes. Use a college tour checklist to make sure you see everything you want to. After your tour, if something seemed like it was missing, consider taking a walk independently around the campus. Then compare notes and rate each university. This can help you decide which campus you feel most comfortable on. Some specific traits to note include:
1. Campus Walkability
It’s essential to note the walkability of the campus you are touring. Some campuses span miles, while others advertise being able to walk the entirety of campus in 15 minutes. If the campus is large, you will want to ask if there is a bus system. You’ll probably have to take it into account when scheduling classes. If a campus is close together, back to back classes are an option. If it’s huge, you’ll pretty much always have classes spread out each day.
Note the distance between important buildings like the library, dormitories, and dining halls. If you know what building a majority of your classes will be in, you might try to get in a dorm close to that building. Be observant of where important buildings can be found and don’t be afraid to ask for a map. It can make your life easier when you move to campus.
2. Student Resources
Ask where to find important resources such as academic advising, tutoring, and the health center. Visit the advising center on campus tour to create a schedule, if you have already been accepted to the university. A tutoring center could be useful on your educational journey for notoriously difficult classes. The health center can be helpful if you are sick and don’t want to schedule an appointment at home or off campus.
If the university you’re touring is missing any of these resources, you’ll have to decide if that’s something you could live without. You might ask about alternatives on or off campus. Talk with current students attending the university to assess the actual usefulness of resources universities advertise.
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3. Diversity and Inclusivity
Related to resources, you might want to look for indicators that promote diversity on campus. Look for functional wheelchair ramps, pride flags, cultural flags, working elevators, and wide enough doorways. If you’re in need of accommodations, make sure the university’s accessibility office is well staffed and funded.
A good measure of the diversity on campus will show when you’re on a tour if you are paying attention to the visual signs around you. Note where students gather to better understand the campus environment overall. If you are interested in being on campus during free time, then you will want to see people gathering.
4. Food Options
Find where the good food options are on campus. Ask students where they regularly eat to get a feel for what your life as a student could look like. A lot of universities have fast food chains located in their student union. If a majority of students prefer the burger restaurant in the union, the dining hall food might not be the best. If you’re looking at universities that require meal plans, make sure they offer something you can eat.
5. Campus Involvement Opportunities
Note how students can get involved on campus, specifically look for clubs and activities that spark your interest.. A lot of universities have flyers around campus advertising events and clubs. Getting involved on campus can help make you friends and form connections.
When you tour a college, ask about ways to connect on campus. Consider joining a volunteer group to help your local community. You could join an athletic team, even casually on an intramural. There are also so many groups from the student newspaper to esports. There’s something for everyone, and it creates great memories.
6. Safety Precautions
Research the crime rate of the city surrounding the university. Ask your college tour guide what measures the university puts in place to keep students safe. This can include but is not limited to campus police, emergency lines, and self-defense classes. Some schools even have emergency poles that directly alert authorities. You won’t have to worry about having your phone charged.
7. Distance From Home and Transportation
You should also find out if there is a train station or airport near the university. You may be able to go on a weekend trip or visit your hometown. While college is great, you’ll likely want to go home at some point. Note how far the campus is from your hometown. Friends and family are crucial support systems during your first year of college. Knowing how far away your parents are from the university may help your decision-making process.
As difficult as it is to decide on the perfect university, you will make the right choice by noting these details. Focus on how the college campus makes you feel. By asking the right questions, you can set yourself up for the perfect college experience.