Advice From Inside: How to Tour Colleges

At Campus Bound, our counselors have over 50 combined years of college admission experience. We are passionate and informed about the world of college admissions. Occasionally we like to tap into that expertise and pass along our words of wisdom to families.  So this month we asked, “What can students do during a college visit in order to get the most out of the experience?”

Here are their responses:

– In order to maximize a campus visit, students should go sit in the student union (or somewhere lots of students hang out) and strike up a conversation with at least two students.  Questions such as: Why did you choose Name of School? What do you like about being here? What is something you wish was different? What do you do in your free time/on the weekend?


– Parents should do as much as possible to stay in the background. They should get then info they need as parents, but make the visit about their child. (Avoid the when “we” apply to/ go to college)


– Find bulletin boards, whether in an academic building, student center, and/or residence hall and see what’s been posted — what are students, professors, and administrators writing and posting about?


– Take a photograph of your tour, including your tour guide and even the other people on the tour (no need to have everyone pose, just hang back and get a group shot when no one is looking).  If you remember what your guide looked like and who else was on the tour, you’ll be more likely to remember the conversation that went with it.


– Grab a snack at the student center or cafe and watch students as they pass from class to class.  Do they appear happy, stressed out, hungover?  Eavesdrop a bit to hear what they are talking about–what concerns them, or approach students and ask them questions about your areas of interest.


– Make sure to take time to visit the local surroundings.  Check out the town, city, or scenery nearby – can you see yourself living in this community for four years?  Do the surroundings make you more or less interested in the school?


– After taking advantage of all the admissions office offers, spend time alone on campus. Walk around and talk to students; eat a meal in the main dining hall; pick up and read a school newspaper; go to a class and stay overnight if possible. Do more than a test drive; live the life of a student.


– Be prepared, have a purpose for being there and come armed with a few good questions you can’t find on the colleges website, dress appropriately but comfortable as some campus tours can be long, and if you meet an Admissions Counselor ask for their business card so you can follow up with more questions as needed. Shake their hand and thank them for their time.


I think my best advice would be to “stay in the moment” and put any cell phones/other distractions aside so that the student really immerses him/herself in the experience (campus tour, the information session, contact with current students and tour guides, etc.) Too often I see prospective students glued to their phones, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to really listen, observe and ask questions. Active note-taking is key to remaining focused on the moment, and will help the student remember what the visit was like once time has passed — both pros and cons are important to note!


Happy college tour season! If you have any questions about planning college visits or how to make the most of them, contact us today!



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