The more campuses I tour, the more I realize I need to go “below the surface” of a typical college visit. Otherwise, I come away from the experience learning little about what it’s like to actually be a student at that school. If you are planning to visit colleges during an upcoming school break it’s especially important not to visit too many schools back to back and to find ways to distinguish one campus from another.
Here are some tips for going beyond the typical campus tour:
---Be sure to ask the tour guide some specific questions about her/his own experience as a student.
---Eat lunch in a campus cafeteria and approach students who are eating there with questions. Most will be happy to share their experience.
---Beforehand, arrange a tour with an admissions officer. You can search the school website to find out the name of your local college representative. If he/she is not available, another staff member may be happy to meet you.
---Research your potential major and email a professor in the department, or the department administrator, about possibly setting up a visit when you are on campus.
---Contact a current student, a family friend, acquaintance, or alumnus from your high school and arrange to meet on campus.
As you plan your campus visits, be sure to allow some “down time” to relax and re-group between each one or two tours. Jot down your impressions while they are still fresh in your memory. Taking photos can also help jog your memory later.
I hope you enjoy your visits—as well as experience a little of genuine campus life for students.