By CIT Consultant Lessa Scherrer
Traditionally, the college tour consists of an information session led by someone from the admissions office and a student-led campus tour. Over the last few years, many tours have been restricted to outside visits to buildings. After visiting a few campuses, the problem is that all colleges start to feel alike. They emphasize the same things in an effort to be all things to all students. So how can the savvy student (and family) make the most of their college tour?
Planning: Personalize your time on campus! What additional opportunities do you have after a campus tour? You can connect with academic departments independently, separate from the tour. Make an appointment at the career center to get the low down on internships and job placement opportunities.
If you’re traveling a long way, make the most of your trip by contacting admissions to see if there are special activities on campus that you can attend, such as a football game or concert or a class in your potential major that you can sit in on. Perhaps they can arrange for you to have lunch with some students or a faculty member from your major so that you can ask questions about classes or research opportunities.
Be sure to collect a few questions you will ask at every college visit. The answers you receive might highlight different aspects of the college experience. Questions like “What is there to do on weekends?”, “What are favorite traditions on campus?” Be sure to check the “College Visits” folder of your CIT portal for lists of questions you can choose from.
Once You’re There: What kinds of stories does the guide tell? My tour guide at Syracuse was careful to explain how hardy students are to survive their cold, snowy winters. In contrast, the University of Miami guide emphasized outdoor living but with amenities like a weekly farmer’s market held right outside the dorms.
Observe the students. This is critical and exactly what your consultants do as they tour campuses. Do the students look happy? Are they hanging out with friends on campus, or do they have their heads down over their phones? Are they trudging to class under heavy backpacks, which might indicate a hefty class load or amount of homework?
You’re investing time and money into visiting colleges as part of your decision-making process. These tips will help you leverage that investment and enjoy your time on campus.