Campus visit tips

The best way to experience a potential college is by visiting the campus, taking a tour, and interacting with faculty and current students. It’s important to experience the community and get a feel for the place you may call home for four years. During your campus visit, you will learn a lot about the campus, community, academics, and so much more. Make sure that you are asking all the right questions that give you the best feel for the campus that may become your home-away-from-home! 

1)         What is there to do on campus?

This question may seem very straightforward, but you’re actually asking multiple questions in one. By asking about what there is to do, you’re really asking about...

-           What types of student activities there are

-           How often those student activities happen

-           What the tour guide does in their free time

A good tour guide would respond enthusiastically by listing every thing there is to do, complete with personal anecdotes about the experiences they’ve had on campus.

Do these activities sound like things you would be interested in? It doesn’t matter if the tour guide is someone that you’d like to be best friends with, but it does matter if they can’t talk about more than one thing that they like to do on the weekend.

Every college campus has a robust student activities office that plans and schedules fun things to do throughout the week. Campus life should be bustling with opportunities to connect, lead, and perform. If you’re interested in specific activities, like intramural sports or getting involved with student government, make sure to ask your tour guide about those things.

2)         What are classes like?

However you choose to phrase it, asking what classes are like or how the professors are can tell you a lot about the college. As a college student, you’ll spend half of your time in class and working on assignments. Are classes taught by T.A.’s, or do professors teach them? Are there big lecture-hall style classes, or are they smaller and more discussion based? Keep in mind your learning style – do you learn best by listening and taking notes, or by discussing the reading with your classmates. Don’t forget to ask the tour guide their major! If it is similar to your intended major, ask them questions about their experience in the classroom.

It is important to know if the professors are caring and willing to help their students. Do they have regular office hours? Do they make time to review concepts and explain the material if you seek help? In high school, you may have heard that college professors won’t take it easy on you. While that is true, most professors do not want to see you struggle. Make sure to ask your tour guide about their classroom experience and interactions with professors. During your time in college, you are likely to have one or two professors that make an impact on your life.

3)         What are dining options on campus like?

This question is more important than you think! In the same spirit of question 1, you’re really asking about...

-           How many dining options there are

-           The different types of food served

-           Whether or not the tour guide enjoys the food on campus

-           If students eat on or off campus for most meals

Would you like it if your mom served meatloaf every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Probably not. You probably wouldn’t like it if your college cafeteria served the same thing that often. It’s important to know what dining options are available on campus because that is probably what you will be eating more often than not. If you’re a picky eater, make sure you ask about the variety of things that are served during the week. Most cafeterias are all-you-can-eat style with multiple serving lines, so make sure that your potential college has something that you like. If you have time, ask your tour guide if it’s possible to eat lunch on campus. That is the best way to get a taste of what is offered before committing!

4)         What types of residence hall options exist on campus?

Whether you are studying, sleeping, or hanging out with your friends, you’ll likely spend a majority of your time in a residence hall. Ask questions like...

-           What furniture is included with the room?

-           Can you bunk or loft the beds?

-           Is there an air conditioner in the room?

-           Can you have a microwave or mini-fridge?

Many colleges offer different types of residence halls – from traditional, hall-style residences to suite-style and apartment living. Ask your tour guide about their best tips for living with roommates! Don’t be afraid of rooming with a “stranger” – sometimes those random roommates can become your closest friends.

It’s also important to know what you can bring on move-in day and what you must leave behind. Most colleges have a strict policy that prohibits candles, extension cords, hot plates, or other fire hazards. Make sure you know these things before you arrive! Some schools offer mini-fridge or microwave rentals, which can be helpful if you are coming from far away and don’t have room to pack extra items!

5)         Will I be a name or a number?

Make sure you take some time to figure out what you want from your college experience. Do you value personal attention and a close-knit community? Robust student activities with exciting things to do every night? Are you looking for a small campus community or a large one?  During your campus visit, try to imagine yourself living and learning in that community.

And the most important question of all... “Why did you choose this place?”  Hearing your tour guide’s story about why they chose to make that college their home-away-from-home can be hugely beneficial as you make your decision. Ultimately, a campus visit can help you determine whether or not you’ll be comfortable in a specific college’s community.