As a kid growing up, going to college was never discussed because it was an expectation, a requirement, and a mandate. Which college was I going to go to? Well, that was easy as well. I was going to apply and attend wherever I was accepted. That was it. The schools I applied to were the ones where everyone else was applying to–all the in-state schools and where it was most popular to attend. Looking at it in hindsight, it was not the best way of picking a school. The main and probably one of the most practical things that I did not do was go on some college/campus tours to see whether I would like the school or not. More so, was that school going to be the right “fit” for me?
There really is no other feeling like that of walking onto a campus and experiencing first hand what it is like to be a college student there. Whether you’re walking onto the quad or into the student union or bookstore, there is an initial sense of excitement that you can’t help feel and just smile. Most colleges provide a campus tour throughout the calendar year. You just need to schedule one and go! They can last anywhere from one hour to two and a half hours, depending on the size of the group. The way to make the most of the time that you are on a tour is to have questions ready to ask that you could not find the answers to online. Study a little bit about the campus so that way you are a little informed about the school. For the tours, they are usually given by student ambassadors-those students who are currently enrolled there and can tell you first hand what their experience has been like for their first year and on. Because these tours will show you the highlights of the school and campus, it is best advised to spend some time either before or after the tour just meandering around the campus to see what else there is. Take a camera and record your tour, or use some of the wonderful apps out there to journal your trip, such as Vine. Opportunities are also available to attend a class or two for the intended major. In addition, some schools even invite prospective students to stay overnight to experience what it would be like to be a student there: dorm life, social activities, cafeteria, athletics, etc. Be sure to ask and research for these availabilities.
When should you start taking college tours? NOW. Honestly, if college is an option, you should start taking tours after the start of your freshman year. Once one year of high school has been experienced, a student’s level of maturity grows and begins to understand the seriousness and importance of what it takes to go to college. The preparation that is involved in researching and learning about the different kinds of schools that are available to them are somewhat overwhelming. However, by taking some tours in small increments, you’re able to see what the possibilities are.
There is so much more to offer about the importance of college visits that this post can go on and on. Check out the following link at collegboard.com (one of our favorites) and read up on what you can do to help prepare for your first trip out.