Making the Most of Your College Tour: What Truly Matters

When you visit a college, it’s important to consider various aspects to ensure that it’s the right fit for you. Here are some of the most important things to look for and consider during your college visit. I’ve arranged the list from things that are most obvious and can often be learned through a web search to things that are more difficult to ascertain and will definitely require you to spend time on the campus. 

The Complete College Advising College Comparison Spreadsheet has a space for you to rate your impressions regarding each of these factors. It’s a free download and I highly recommend that you use it before, during and after each visit. 

The Place: Campus, Facilities and Surrounding Location

Facilities: Tour the campus facilities, including libraries, laboratories, classrooms, and any specialized spaces relevant to your field of study. Ensure they meet your academic needs. Be sure to check out the cafeteria, eateries, gym, student center and outdoor spaces where you will spend your time outside of class.

Housing Options: If you plan to live on campus, check out the dorms or housing options available. Consider factors like room size, amenities, and proximity to academic buildings. Newer dorms have bathrooms in each apartment instead of community bathrooms down the hall, for example.

Location: Think about the college’s location in terms of weather, urban/rural setting, and proximity to your family and hometown.  You might be surprised to know that 60% of college students never even apply to a college that is more than 100 miles from home.

Safety and Security: Ensure that the campus has adequate safety measures in place. Ask about campus security, emergency response procedures, and student safety resources. This includes asking about any unique accessibility, allergy, etc. concerns that you may have. Colleges should be prepared to answer these basic questions. If campus safety is of particular importance to you, ask to see the Cleary Report data, which every college must publish on their website and that documents all violent and non-violent crimes that were reported. 

The Programs: Systems that Will Propel You to Success

Academic Programs and Majors: Make sure they offer the majors or fields of study you’re interested in and are there adjacent programs in case you change your mind? Two thirds of college students change their major and nearly half will change more than one time. Inquire about class sizes- ask specifically about your major and about freshman year courses when you are more likely to see classes of as many as 500.

Support Services: Inquire about the support services available, such as tutoring, counseling, health services, and career advising. These resources can be crucial for your well-being and success after graduation.

Internship and Career Opportunities: Inquire about internship and job placement services offered by the college. Are there connections with local businesses or opportunities for hands-on learning in your chosen field? Where are their alumni employed? Look for the most frequent employers; not just the most prestigious one.

Financial Aid and Scholarships: Ask about tuition costs, available scholarships, and financial aid options. After your visit, you can consider how this college fits your budget and how you plan to fund your education.

Study Abroad and Research Opportunities: If you’re interested in studying abroad or conducting research, find out if the college offers such programs and the support available for students pursuing these opportunities. Who gets these opportunities- is it just the grad students, or do undergrads get to have these experiences, too?

The People: Will I Fit in Here?

Faculty Interaction: Pay attention to the accessibility of professors. Are they approachable and willing to engage with students outside of class? Strong faculty-student relationships can greatly enhance your academic experience.

Extracurricular Activities: Investigate the clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities available on campus. Joining clubs and participating in extracurriculars can enrich your college experience.

Campus Culture: Pay attention to the campus culture and atmosphere. Attend campus tours, open houses, or events to get a feel for the community. Talk to current students to gain insights into campus life.

Diversity and Inclusion: Consider the college’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Look for programs and initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus.

Personal Feel: Trust your instincts and consider how comfortable and at home you feel on campus. Your overall comfort and sense of belonging can greatly impact your college experience. Remember that every student is unique, and what matters most during a college visit may vary from person to person. Take notes, ask questions, and envision yourself as part of the campus community to make an informed decision about your college choice.

When you visit a college for a tour, it’s not just about checking out the campus and its facilities; it’s an opportunity to gauge the environment and the opportunities for engagement that the college offers. 

At CompleteAdvising.com, we understand that choosing the right college is a pivotal moment in your academic journey. The decision you make now will significantly impact your future. That’s why we’re here to guide you through the process, ensuring that you have all the information you need to make an informed choice.