Published on August 13th, 2022
Public or private? Big or small? Four years or two? Liberal arts? There are so many decisions when it comes to finding the right college.
Then, the decision you make affects your entire life. You’ll spend thousands of dollars, and after graduation, you’ll forever be a part of their alumni community. How do you start?
While choosing where to go for the next step in your educational journey is daunting, college visits can help.
Taking a tour lets you see what makes each school unique and what it would be like to go there.
However, there’s more to a tour than just looking around. You’re there to make a decision, and there is information you need to gather before doing so.
Use this checklist to guide you on your next college visit to make sure you accomplish everything you need to.
1. Visit Admissions
This may seem obvious, but many people don’t think to add the admissions department to their college tour checklist.
Admissions counselors know where to find excess financial aid. If they think you are an excellent candidate, then they can ask the financial aid department to look at your student profile.
These are typically one-time financial aid awards, but free money is still free.
2. Meet With An Advisor
College advisors know what your requirements will be in order to graduate. It’s crucial to meet with an advisor to get an idea of what your future schedule will look like.
You can find out how all of your incoming credits will transfer, if you have them, and create an informal schedule.
Set up a four-year plan, if your priority is to graduate within four years. You can also find out if an internship is required for your major.
3. Check Out The Health Center
Many people don’t want to think about getting sick, but it’s important to know where the health center is.
The size of the health center can also inform you of how capable the center is of serving the campus. Be sure to pop in and ask how often there is a doctor or if it is primarily run by nurses.
This way, you know if you need to find a local primary care physician.
4. Explore The Building Your Major Is Housed In
While not every school designates a building for each major, related subjects are usually grouped near one another.
Biology, chemistry, and nursing, for example could all share a building because that’s where lab equipment is stored. You will be spending a lot of time in your major’s building, so you better make sure it’s worth the money.
You don’t want to commit to a university when your department is housed in a dark, damp basement. On the other hand, you might compare the perks each department offers.
A lot of majors have a nice place to study and socialize with other students. It’s important that you can visualize yourself in this space.
5. Confirm They Have A Tutoring Center
Though you may not want to admit it, there will be a class that you need help with. The tutoring center is the place to go when you need tutoring or even a quiet place to do homework.
Most campuses have tutors for a variety of subjects from math to Spanish. Writing Centers are also great resources to utilize if you need help with a research paper.
If you know there are subjects you struggle with, you’re going to want to confirm the college you choose has a resource to help you.
If you excel in a certain subject, you could also ask what it takes to become a tutor. This may be a great on-campus job, if you are looking for future opportunities.
6. Look At Multiple Dining Options
While your tour will probably stop by one dining hall, try to visit the cafeteria they don’t show you. Though it may seem if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, that’s not necessarily true.
Ask any college student, and they’ll likely tell you which dining hall is best. Make sure to visit the dining halls you didn’t see on tour. And remember, some colleges are more likely to serve their best food on scheduled visit days.
It’s also a good idea to check out local dining options. You’ll probably want to eat at a restaurant a few times while at college.
Ask your tour guide for a good place to eat in the surrounding city. Remember, you’re deciding on the college and the town. This stop will give you a more accurate idea of what your diet could be while at school.
7. Talk To Students On Campus
Students don’t shy away from telling the truth, so ask them what they think about the university. More specifically, ask them what they like most and least about the university.
This gives you a good idea of what students think. Talking to students also helps you get a feel for the environment and if it is the right fit.
If you find a student who has majored in something you’re interested in, you can ask them about professors and classes.
This can give you a behind-the-scenes perspective. It could even help you decide between programs, if you’re still debating on a major.
8. Take A Break From Your Parents
A college tour can feel intimidating, but you need to take a step away from your parents. You won’t be bringing your parents to college.
You will be an independent student trying to balance a new life. This break may mean taking a small walk back to the university store or stopping to grab a coffee.
Take a moment to assess how you feel about each college. Your parents may be focused on programs or the cost of tuition, but make sure you make the choice based on your values.
Allow yourself time to form your own opinions about the university without your parents peering over your shoulders.
Remember It Will Work Out
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the amount of information you get while visiting campus. Remember to take notes about what you like and dislike during each visit.
You can always go back to these and compare before making your final decision.
Take a deep breath and recognize how hard you worked to get where you are now. Wherever you decide to go to college will have ups and downs, just like life.
But you’ll make fantastic friends, memories, and — hopefully — learn something along the way.
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