veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

Survival Guide: College Tours Edition

Things to keep in mind while visiting the colleges of your dreams
A+guided+tour+of+Brown+University+during+the+summer%2C+lead+by+a+current+student
Sahana Sri
A guided tour of Brown University during the summer, lead by a current student

Between classes, extracurriculars, clubs and sports, many students involve themselves in their high schools with a specific goal: attending a good college after graduation. Underclassmen are often just gaining knowledge about majors, paths, and standards for a good college, as juniors and seniors are in critical years for college pathways. Seniors talk about all of the applications and where their dream school is.

However, one critical part of the college application process should be considered: college tours.

College tours place students on the college campus they are considering applying to. This may be hard for some, as students may want to apply to schools on the other side of the country. Planning such trips between all the activities that need to go on the application may be challenging. 

Nevertheless, college tours are likely the best way to measure whether a student will like life on campus. Of course, there are pictures and articles on the internet. But what better way to find out about the college of your dreams than to visit it yourself?

“I’ve visited a couple of in-state colleges so far, and sometimes I can picture myself on that campus. Other times, I don’t like the campus as much and I don’t think I’ll be happy there. Either way, I always come out more informed to make a decision about whether I’d want to go there,” says junior Dasha Heydari.

College visits may also increase your chances of acceptance at some schools. Some colleges, such as American, Cornell, Dartmouth and Duke, will mark demonstrated interest. College tours may be included in this area. By seeing that a student has already visited the campus, admissions may believe that the student is interested in attending the university.

However, this isn’t the case with all colleges, as many institutions recognize that campus visits can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s only recommended that you visit colleges you are strongly interested in; it’s not mandatory.

There isn’t any proper way to visit a college campus. Some students will judge based on the content given to them on a guided tour, while others’ deciding factors may be as simple as the aesthetic. In any case, you can do a couple of things while on a college campus visit.

  1. Plan. Finding time to visit college campuses can be difficult, but it may aid your commitment decisions come senior year. Planning will help you put a date on the calendar that you can then plan around. College Board recommends that students start touring campuses in their sophomore year or summer before their junior year. By planning, you can work out to experience your dream school without hurrying.
  2. Research the school online. No matter how much you’ve researched a particular school, there is always some new information you can find online. Class schedules and booking guided tours are often available on campus websites. Schools may also have virtual tours made during COVID for prospective students. You can also check when classes are in session to get a feel for a regular day at that specific college. Touring over the summer when everyone is on vacation may differ from touring right before college finals!
  3. Talk to students. You may already know a student at your desired university. If so, ask them about their college’s academics, campus landmarks and key features. You may even be able to ask them to give you a tour! If you don’t know any students at your dream school, don’t worry. Current students also lead many guided tours from the colleges, so you can talk to them to learn more about the campus while you are on tour. Talking to students will give you more information about the pathway you want to go into, and it can also give you a general idea of how students like this college.
  4. Have your own tour. Official campus tours tend to avoid the parts of campus that are less interesting. However, they are still part of the campus you may be living on, which means they’re worth checking out. After taking an official tour, walk around by yourself for a little bit. You can visit the parts of campus that may be important to what you plan to major in or spend more time around.
  5. Stop by the admissions office. Don’t be afraid to talk to the people who know about the admissions process! They can probably answer any burning questions you have. They’ll give you tips on what they may look for in a prospective student, tell you about more places on campus to check out, or even give you the contacts of faculty in the department you’d like to apply to.
  6. Focus on your interests. Plan on majoring in STEM? Then don’t spend your entire time in the English department. Look at areas you will spend the most time in during your undergraduate years. This can lead you to labs, libraries, or sitting in on a class and meeting some of the professors that you may have in the future. 
  7. Write it down. As thrilling as the pictures you send your best friend may look, you aren’t going to remember every thought from your campus tour. That memory will be tough to track down while you’re writing essays trying to think back to a tour you took in sophomore year. Even if it’s messy lists in your Notes app, anything that can help you remember the actual campus or your impression of it will help you guide your decisions and the essays you will write.

The college application process can be stressful, but not all aspects have to be. Enjoy the tours you take on the campuses of your dreams. Pay attention to the pros and cons of each, and use them to influence your decisions on schools. Although it may be hard to hit every college on your list, it’s worth visiting the top one or two. You never know: you might end up at the university you’re touring because of one great tour on campus.

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About the Contributor
Sahana Sri
Sahana Sri, Online Director

Class of 2025

Sahana has been part of the Talon staff for 3 years. She has previously served as the Ombudsman and enjoys writing feature pieces.

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  • Jan WillisAug 29, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    Great article. Very informative. I wish I had such information (about 40 years ago) when I applied for colleges. (And, as your former English teacher… outstanding sentence structure, words choice, and punctuation. 🙂

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