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Summer Vacation is a Great Time to Visit Colleges

Photo by michaelquirk/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by michaelquirk/iStock / Getty Images

Tips for a Successful Double-Duty Trip & Questions to Ask Tour Guides

With so many schools to choose from and so many factors to consider, visiting colleges is a great way to begin your college search. Setting foot on a college campus for a firsthand look plays a big part in helping your student choose the best fit school to attend.

Even if your student’s interest is low in the colleges you visit, we know that with each visit they are deciding on what they like or dislike about a campus, narrowing their focus to what is important to them in a college.

College visits can be:

Formal--Schedule a campus visit, attend an information session and take a tour with a student guide by contacting the admissions office, or

 Informal--simply take a walk through campus.

Ground rules for your campus visits:

If you schedule a campus tour don’t let it be just an hour of following a student guide, listening to random facts about the school, ask questions.

Generally, you will see a residence hall and academic buildings, but ask to go through buildings you are interested in seeing and about the academic areas that interest you.

Eat on campus. Some colleges offer complimentary meal tickets and you can see students just hanging out.

If possible, talk to students—they can speak about their college experience in a way that others can’t or won’t. 

Student:

Campus tours are designed to show off the best of a campus and sell you on the school, listen to what they say but weight it against what you want.

Go with your first impressions. Consider what attracts you, what doesn’t appeal to you.

You will be living, studying there for 4 years, not your parents.

Parent:

Sometimes your student’s like or dislike of a campus may seem like irrational reasoning, or unimportant to you, but it’s their decision.

Your student will pick up campus fashion, language or social vibes that you aren’t aware of or don’t understand.

Questions to ask campus tour guides:

  • Why did they pick this school? What other schools did they consider?
  • What do they wish they had known about the school before they picked it?
  • What was the most difficult thing to get used to here?
  • Ask about their personal experiences at the school. What would they change about the school?
  • What was the largest first-year class size they had? Colleges like to talk about average class size but avoid providing the details.
  • Ask about students’ relationships with faculty
  • What's the best class or most inspiring professor they have had? Why? How well does he know his professors, and how did that happen?
  •  Ask if any of their first-year friends didn’t come back and if not, why?

You want to know what college life is like beyond the classroom:

  • Ask about extracurricular activities, athletics, clubs and organizations?
  • What is it like living in the dorms?
  • How is the social life on campus?
  • What do students do for fun off campus?
  • What is the local music or art scene like?
  • Are the students welcomed in the surrounding community?
  • Do students hang around on campus on the weekends? What did they do last weekend? And the weekend before that? How often do they and their friends go home?
  • How influential are fraternities and sororities on campus life?
  • What percentages of students go Greek? Are the fraternities and sororities residential or social only?
  • Ask about campus safety.