January 8, 2023

Tips from a student about campus tours

Last spring, I decided to spend my spring break visiting my top universities for college tours. This was unexpected for many people who told me that I had time to visit colleges. After encouragement from my college planner and parents, though, I flew down to Washington, DC and visited American University, George Washington University, and the University of Richmond. I signed up for three different tours across three days and gave myself time to explore the city to get a true sense of what it would be like to live there. 

My first tour was at 10:00 AM at American University. The first hour of the tour I listened to the university’s admission’s officers talk about what a student should anticipate before and after admission. We then split into groups and were led by students around the campus. We visited  classrooms and explored the facilities that students would have access to, all while being right in the middle of a vibrant campus. The two hours passed by quickly. The tour guides were friendly and gave me a good sense of what my life would be like if I attended classes there. I left the tour with a renewed excitement and less anxiety about what college life would be like. 

The other two tours had similar formats, but each university offered its own benefits and charms. George Washington was modern, sleek, and professional while the University of Richmond was old-fashioned and featured stunning brick buildings where students lived and studied. 

Most importantly, the three visits helped me realize just how important it is for prospective students to visit the colleges they’re interested in. It’s one thing to look at statistics, read testimonials from alumni and see videos online, but it’s a whole different feeling to walk around the campus where you could potentially spend the next four years of your life. I could picture myself walking around the three different campuses and studying in their classrooms. The visits helped me narrow down what I am interested in seeing in my future college. I realized that safety on campus and access to the main city was important for me, something I would have never considered if I hadn’t visited the college and talked to fellow students.

Class 101 helped me prepare for these three visits. After reviewing the conversations I had with my advisors and the college visit guidebook that I was given to document my visit, I realized I have three pieces of advice about how to approach your first college visit. 

  1. Do some research before going in. While you are there to learn more about the college, it doesn’t hurt to read up about the university and what you will see during the tour. That way, you can go into the tour prepared to ask the right questions to help your own nerves and stress. 
  2. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. College is daunting. You and your guardians may have several questions. During my tours, I asked several questions about things that I was unsure about. Tour guides answered each of my questions and were more than happy to stay and chat after the tour finished. No questions are wrong during these visits because the goal of the trip is to ensure that you know everything that you need to know about that particular university. 
  3. Lastly, keep an open mind! Colleges may look different from the pictures than what you expect and that can be disappointing. However,  it is important to learn about what you’re looking for in a university before the actual application process. Visiting the university is the best way of evaluating whether the college is really the best fit for you or not. 

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