Touring a college campus may be the most important part of researching where you’d like to study. It’s one of the only times you can get an insider’s perspective before making the big decision, so don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
Don’t search for answers that can be found online or have little impact on your college life as a whole. A tour is only so long, and you’ll want to ask all the important questions you can, but remember that tour guides are often just students. They may not have all the answers pertaining to financial aid or personal matters.
Here are five questions you should ask during every tour.
1. What was the transition like from high school to college?
This is typically the question on every soon-to-be freshman’s mind, so follow your instinct and ask. It’s a vague inquiry, so you’ll likely find out a lot about how the classwork is different, how easy it is to make friends, what selecting courses is like, how much free time you have, and more.
2. What was your favorite class like?
This is another broad question that can get a wide variety of responses. However, it can tell you a lot about the school’s academics. How enthusiastic are the guides when they respond? Do they have trouble picking a specific course because they like so many or because none stand out? Did they find the class challenging and engaging? Asking questions about class sizes and course loads can be beneficial, but you can find those answers elsewhere. This is one of the only times you can gauge how passionate students are about the courses.
3. What are all the residence and dining halls like?
Big colleges and universities may have several different residence halls and dining facilities, but you may only tour one. Ask about the ones you don’t get to look through. Ask about the quality of the food and how many dormitories are suites, apartments or typical two-person rooms. Ask where freshman normally live and where seniors go. Find out what dormitories they like most and why.
4. What’s the city/town/region like?
Some colleges are rooted in the center of a big city. Others might as well be cities themselves. In both situations, ask what the area is like. Are there many locals that aren’t college students? Is it safe to go out at night? Where do students go on the weekends? You’re about to move to a new location for four years, so you’ll want to know a little about what’s outside the school, too.
5. What’s one thing you would change about this school?
You’ll likely hear all about why your guide loves the school you’re touring, but it’s wise to find out what they don’t like as much. Save this question for last. You may find out something important about the campus life, the course work or specific programs that could influence your decision. Then again, some tour guides may be so content with their experience that even identifying a problem could be a challenge.
As you’re collecting information from your tour guide, remember that this is just one perspective in a student body of thousands. If you get the opportunity, talk to other students during your tour, and remember that everyone has a different college experience.