For students finishing their junior year, campus visit season is upon us! If you’re preparing to go on college tours the summer before your senior year, you are on the right track! Be wary, however; these tours can range from highly beneficial to a waste of time to detrimental to your acceptance. What you get out of a tour all depends on how you prepare and how seriously you take it.
Students rank college visits as a prime factor in determining what school they’ll enroll in. These visits are also a great way for the admissions offices to assess applicants’ interests, maturity, and fit at any given university.
Follow our dos and don’ts to be noticed for the right reasons and to get the absolute most out of your experience.
Do plan ahead to ensure you see everything you want to see. This may include activities/sights not included on the official tour.
Do your research. Look online for key facts and figures (cost of attendance, size of student body, availability of majors you’re interested in, etc.). Knowing this information beforehand will allow you to ask more substantive questions on your tour and give you a better sense of what you’re getting into. Reading the school newspaper or checking out the college’s social media can also allow you to research the student experience from the students’ perspectives.
Do ask questions. Be assertive. Speak to your tour guide, other high schoolers touring, students on campus, admissions officers, professors, and anyone else who may give you a better sense of the school. Come prepared with a list of questions.
Do explore on your own. There’s no way the tour will cover everything you need/want to know. Go off on your own with your parent or friends to get a better sense of how you’ll feel on campus. Hit up a local cafe, restaurant, or other favorite spot of students.
Do sit in on a class. Nothing will give you a better sense of being a college student than sitting amongst them in a lecture.
Do get information on financial aid and scholarships. Between the FAFSA, merit-based aid, and scholarships financing college can be complex. Being able to talk to admissions face-to-face will make it easier to understand what you would pay at their college.
Don’t visit a college without knowing the basics. Asking questions about generic and accessible information will make a bad impression on people you’re trying to impress.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Admissions officers, students, and your tour guides are incredibly busy! Converse with them, but be respectful of their time.
Don’t disregard the social scene. No one at that college believes academics is all you care about. It’s okay, and yes, important, to ask questions about social life in addition to academics. Inquire about campus organizations, greek life, athletics, or whatever else you’re curious about.
Don’t ask invasive questions. Ask about financial aid, academics, or the campus environment but do so without making your tour guide uncomfortable about her finances, grades, or social life. Keeping questions simple is a great way to avoid embarrassment.
Don’t count a school out because of a bad tour. If your visit left you disappointed, do more research, contact admissions with your concerns, and learn as much as you can to ensure a school truly isn’t right for you before you eliminate it from your list.
At Parros College Planning, we encourage every student and their parent(s) to visit the colleges they’re most serious about. It can be a stressful and expensive process at times, but it is often imperative in determining if a student will end up applying or attending a given school.
Being a parent on one of these tours is a whole other ball game! Check out our blog on executing the perfect college tour as a mom or dad here!
These dos and don’ts are a start, but for more information on tours and everything else college planning, setup a time to speak with us!