Yesterday, we discussed the pros and cons of taking a virtual college tour as students start to create their game plan for finding the college that fits them best. But it’s summer, time to get outside and enjoy the weather, freedom and travel. Students getting ready for college can combine all three of summer’s elements and throw in a dash of college planning for a summer trip that is not only memorable, but also great for future planning.
Just taking the time and showing up for a college tour visit is half the battle, though. Here are some tips for getting the most out of a student’s college visit:
Even though it is summer, many students are still on campus. As a result of the slower pace of summer sessions, many tours may have time where prospective students can talk with current students. Take advantage of this source of firsthand knowledge and ask what current students like and dislike about the school. Don’t just stop with students, though, ask questions of the admission counselors. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Campus tours are designed to provide a forum for questions. Even if a student hasn’t applied to a school, tour guides, counselors and other staff know that a tour can often make or break a decision to apply or attend.
Students can go the extra step and do a little research ahead of time to ask questions of professors or other teaching staff in their areas of interest. Visiting the school’s website will give you access to faculty in various departments on campus. A politely worded email, reflecting a student’s respect for the faculty member’s time, can easily result in some great insider knowledge about studying at a school and what, in particular, makes that school’s department great.
Don’t take things at face value
A campus tour is, in all honesty, a sales pitch. Tour guides are going to show students all the things that are great about a campus and showcase what the school has to offer in the best possible light. By finding a variety of students and faculty to talk with about the realities of a school, students might find that, like in all things, everything isn’t always postcard-perfect. Combining sources of information will help students get a much better, and broader, understanding of what school has to offer and where it might not meet their individual needs.
Be impressed by the right things
When a prospective student visits a college for the first time, things like campus coffee shops, large libraries and football stadiums will seem impressive. Of course, these are things that most colleges have on campus. The more colleges a student sees, the more they will realize what is common and recognize what sets schools apart. Looking for those things that make a college truly unique will help students find what matches best for them.
Not taking the tour
Sure, this was mentioned above, but it bears repeating. Taking the official campus tour means the difference between learning about what school has to offer and just seeing what the campus looks like. Even more, when a student takes the campus tour it shows a school that they are interested in being a student there. Often this can come into play as a factor when it comes time for admissions officers to review a student’s application. Not everyone who takes a tour is forced to apply and knowledge is power. So don’t be afraid to take the official tour and find out the latest about the campus. Why else come all that way?