When I was first choosing which college to go to, I went on many campus visits to check out the campus itself, the dorms and even the surrounding town. I finally settled on a University and my sophomore year, volunteered to help give campus tours to prospective students. Both situations have helped me create this easy guide on what you should do when you go on your campus tours to give you the best experience possible.
Bring Your Family
I recommend going with a family member on your tour and not your friends. A lot of the time groups that were just prospective students were easily distracted and not focused on really learning about the university. If you want to bring friends, be sure to bring at least an adult to help keep you paying attention. They also might have questions that you aren’t concerned about, like campus safety, and will want to get to know your possible home for the next two or four years.
Take Notes-Lots of Notes
You are going to want to take notes on everything. It may seem corny carrying around a notebook, but you are going to forget a lot of information you learn. A small, pocket sized book and pen are enough and will help you keep you focused and paying attention. People will gawk at you and may shout things at you, and there is lots to look at. If you miss important information, you may miss a detail which is make or break for that college. Write down anything interesting you hear to keep you paying attention to your tour guide. You should also formulate questions you want to ask the guide and put them on a page in the notebook
That brings me to my next point: ask a lot of questions. If you have questions about a specific program, the guide may not know much about it, but can give you phone numbers or building locations for you to visit during free time around campus. The tour guide is happy to share their experience at that college with you. Remember, they volunteered to help you on your tour and want you to walk away feeling satisfied with your visit. Listen to other people’s questions and take notes. They may have thought of something you didn’t. I was always happy to answer all questions, no matter how big or small.
Take photos of anything you find interesting about the campus. Is there unique architecture or scenery? Snap a quick photo and save it. This may help you make decisions about what campus is best for you. I recommend taking photos of any dorm rooms you see, because they vary a lot from campus to campus and comparing features may be important to your needs.
Spend Time in Town
If you’re looking at colleges far from home, take time to visit some sites around town. Ask your tour guide about restaurants or land marks they think are interesting. I was always willing to recommend my favorite sandwich shop or pizza place to families. Talk to students around campus when your tour is over and visit any of the offices or departments you need to speak with. I went to college far from home, so we spent as much time as possible exploring the town and campus as we could.
The biggest piece of advice is to take in as much as possible in the time you have for the visit. I know many families cram two or three visits into a weekend to save on transportation costs so you may be a little overwhelmed. Taking notes, photos and really focusing on your visit will make each one stand out, and ultimately help you make your final choice.