Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?
As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the the experts. Here are their answers.
Jeannie Borin, Founder & President, College Connections,
Here are some things to look out for while you tour different colleges. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many buildings, programs and informational tours. A preplanned checklist of what you want to see is a good idea. Here are some bullet points of different things I look for in touring the many colleges I see each year: – Admission Criteria Requirements and What to Include with Application When to Apply GPA & Test Scores (if required) Scholarships Offered Student Support/Counseling Center – Academics Professor Availability Popular Programs Average Size of Class (ratio to student) Possible Internships Study Abroad Opportunities Available Technology Library Facilities – Campus Life Greek – Fraternities/Sororities Weekend Activities Special Campus Events How Many Students Live on Campus? Commute? Sport Events Dining Facilities Party Scene – Campus Setting Where is College Located? Too Remote? Too Urban? Near a City? What is Surrounding Community Like? Campus Town? – Look of the College Dorms and Nearby Housing Lecture Halls & Classrooms Clean, Easy Access, Transportation Libraries Security & Safety, Campus Police Availability Current Building Projects How Well Are Current Facilities Maintained? Recreation Center While you visit, here are some additional suggestions: Take a campus informational tour Set up an interview with an admission officer Audit a course Speak with a professor or representative at the department in your field of interest If you are pursuing athletics, talk to a coach in your sport If possible, stay overnight in a dorm with a friend or relative Pick up the campus newspaper Spend time in the Student Union and eat in the cafeteria Speak to students and ask questions Find the center of campus and have a seat for 30 minutes Take a look at the college bookstore Ask a student what he/she loves and hates about the college Tour the community surrounding the campus Ask a student if you can see their dorm room Ask yourself if you could feel at home at this college Take lots of notes and pictures Enjoy yourself!
Closely question any student guides about where students lunch, where they go on weekends, and which dorms have what kinds of reputations. Student living patterns are very often much better indicators of how well students will do in classes than most people recognize. How many students have work-study jobs, and what kinds of jobs do they include; where are internships, and what does it take to get one; what summer projects or jobs does the college offer, both to make money and, perhaps, accelerate graduation. And where in a student union do students go to trade information; is there a student reported ranking of classes or faculty; and where do students go on dates, with what other colleges? Get a sense of the social and cultural environment: are plays and concerts less expensive or more frequent than football and basketball games? Does that pattern fit your lifestyle, or meet your social – as well as cultural – needs? Are other campuses open and collaborating (many colleges have shared programs or cultural activities, sports or travel options). Better than these questions, can you meet with three friends and compare your questions to develop a profile of each college each of you visit? to better accomplish such a goal, use 3×5 cards to write your questions, and then, a week later, compare your piles of questions before putting them in any order you may prefer. Building a profile is much, much stronger when you have a team and you’re comparing your impressions of the same or different colleges.
Reena Gold Kamins, Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.
Some colleges always have classes available for you to visit or dorms for you to see. Some don’t. Before you head to campus, make a list of everything you want to do, e.g. see a dorm, eat in the dining hall, sit in on a class, or see the career services center. Next, check the website to see if any of the things on your list are part of the standard tour. If they’re not, call the admission office to see if they can accommodate your interests. Don’t just show up for the tour and expect to see everything on your list. Once on campus, listen carefully to the information that is presented in the info session. Often counselors will give subtle details about what they’re looking for in their applicants or about what they find sets some applicants apart, in a positive way. Listen closely; but, more importantly, ask good questions. You have a chance to make a positive impression on the counselor, so don’t ask a question like what’s the average class size which can easily be found on the website. Listen closely on the tour too. Is the guide only talking about athletics? Or is he only talking about parties? It could be that he’s not the most knowledgeable guide or, it could be that is all that happens on that campus. It’s an important distinction to investigate.