College tours play a key role in the college search and decision process. Here are some suggestions for making the most of these trips. The April break in the public high school calendar is coming up and summer is not too far away. These are prime opportunities to visit college campuses, take a tour and attend an information session.
This may be obvious, but bring a notebook and pen/pencil to record your impressions of each school. If taking notes during the actual tour seems awkward, at least be prepared to capture what struck you (good and bad) about the college in the car immediately after your visit. Make sure that your evaluation takes into account what you heard about curriculum, requirements and special academic programs. You will want to draw some conclusions about the facilities. Dorms may be interesting to see, but don’t forget to think about the library, classroom setup, fitness center, etc. How does the layout of the campus and the architecture of the buildings make you feel?
Don’t try to visit more than two campuses in a day on college tours. Give yourself time to wander before or after your guided tour. Don’t be shy. Ask questions of students you see. They are much more likely to be open and honest than the tour guides who work with the admissions office. Finally, be sure to check out the area immediately surrounding the campus. In most cases opinions will vary. Would you prefer a campus in a quiet residential area, a modest commercial area with a few small shops and restaurants, or a dense, but varied urban environment? Is it safe to walk in the area at night or is it critical to have a car, or know someone who does?