You’ve reviewed their official college website, looked through their brochures and followed their social media pages. Now you think you know what it’s like to be a student there, right? Not quite. Viewing a college through the lens of a website or brochure can give you an idea of what it is like to be there, but no words can describe it better than actually being there. Here are tips on how to prepare for a campus tour to keep you ahead of the game.
What Are the Benefits of a Campus Tour?
Taking a campus tour of a college you are interested in gives you a chance to imagine what it's like to be a student there and helps you determine whether or not it's a good fit for you. Here are the benefits of a campus tour:
- Get an up close and personal view of the campus
- Learn fun facts about the college, including its history
- Ask questions that are not answered in any of the college’s resources
- Speak to current students about their experiences
- Participate in activities on campus and learn about campus life
- Check out campus amenities, student resources and stadiums
- Taste the different types of food served on campus
- Find out if the atmosphere and vibe is what you are looking for
- Meet with various departments and personnel in your field of interest
How to Prepare for a Campus Tour
Make the most of your campus tour by scheduling time to prepare beforehand. Tours typically include an information session and a walking tour of the campus, but they may not include additional interactions that may be beneficial.
For example, if you are interested in financial aid information, be sure to call and schedule an appointment with the college’s financial aid office for the day of your tour. The staff will be able to answer your specific questions and help you determine the next steps to making sure your financial needs are met.
Talking with a professor in a field that interests you or with an academic advisor can help you learn more about the department. Request a meeting with a professor in your field of interest or an advisor to get a better understanding of the class format and curriculum.
Ideas for Questions to Ask During Your Campus Tour:
Before your tour, also consider reviewing the college’s official website, brochure and any additional materials the college has sent you. Use the information you learn to create a list of questions for admissions officers, tour guides and current students during your visit.
Questions about Academics:
- What is the four-year graduation rate?
- What is the average class size for introductory classes compared to upper-division courses?
- What academic resources are available for students?
- Are there internship opportunities available?
- Are there undergraduate research opportunities available for students?
- How involved are academic advisors?
- Are there any unique academic experiences offered for eligible students? (Honors College, special living learning communities, service-learning programs, etc.)
- What is the reputation of college of interest?
- How many classes are taught by professors, and how many are taught by teaching assistants?
- How diverse is the student population?
- What study abroad opportunities exist for students?
- How well will this college prepare me for my career?
Questions about Student Life:
- What extracurricular activities are offered?
- Can you describe what Greek life is like here?
- What are the meal plans like?
- How is the dining hall food?
- What is it like to live in a dorm?
- What do students do for fun on campus?
- What activities are available in the surrounding community?
- How easy or difficult is it to get around campus?
Questions for Current Students:
- Why did you choose this college?
- What is your favorite and least favorite thing about going here?
- How friendly are the people here?
- What’s the social vibe like on campus?
- What do students typically do on the weekends?
- Which majors are the strongest, and which ones are the weakest?
- What is it like to live here?
What Should You Bring to a Campus Tour?
In addition to preparing a list of questions, it is also important to pack campus tour necessities. Be sure to review colleges’ websites for special tips on what to pack for their specific tour.
Before heading out for your tour, review your campus tour confirmation e-mail thoroughly. The confirmation e-mail will typically include important information that is unique to each college. Remember to pay special attention to parking details in the e-mail because most campuses have specific parking instructions that you need to follow.
Being prepared makes it easier for your to navigate parking, find your way around, and feel ready to learn about the college. Also, consider bringing the following must haves with you.
What to Bring:
- Notebook: This should be used to reference the questions you want to ask, as well as take notes throughout the tour.
- Cell phone with camera: Take photographs of the campus during your tour to help you remember what impressed you. This will also help you later on in remembering which campus made you feel more at home.
- Map: Print out a map of the campus before your visit. Be sure to circle landmarks you would like to see and determine the most effective route to get to all of them in one day.
- Water: Pack a bottle of water to stay hydrated because you will likely walk around campus for a couple of hours.
- Appropriate clothing: Dress according to the weather and pack an umbrella. Most tours will be held rain or shine.
You’ve prepared yourself for this moment and are ready to take in the campus experience. Remember to ask your questions, take notes, snap photographs and most importantly, enjoy yourself!
What Should You Do After the Campus Tour?
So, you took a tour of all of the colleges you were interested in, now what? It’s time to pull out your notebook, photographs and campus materials. Make a chart and compare the pros and cons of all of the colleges. Which photographs impressed you most? Which college ranked the highest on your pro/ con list? Where could you imagine yourself being for four years?
Once you have compared all of the colleges and answered these questions, you’re ready to make a decision on which college is the best fit for you!
USF Campus Tours
USF’s campus tours are the best way to get an up-close view of our top-rated academic facilities, spacious suite-style residence halls, delicious dining options, student support offices, high-tech recreation center and many other points of interest.
Our tours are student-led by Green and Gold Guides who love to share the history, facts, traditions and family they have found here at the University of South Florida. You will be able to hear about their experiences as students and learn what life is really like on our dynamic campus!
About Holly Koly
Holly Koly is the Buyer Engagement Strategist for USF’s Office of Innovative Education. She enjoys writing blog articles that provide meaningful insight into the opportunities and resources available for students and their families throughout the college admissions process.