BY DAVID GUTIERREZ
Currently we’re in the midst of the college visiting season, when high school students and their family members throughout the country check out different colleges before taking the plunge. It is a tradition to visit campuses during the spring break, but there are some collegiate suitors who try to set themselves apart from the competition by making their campus tours even more meaningful. The campus tour is a vital component of any visit to a prospective university or college. With the guidance of either a guide or student, you can easily explore the grounds and buildings of a college before you apply for or accept admission into it.
It is pretty unfortunate, however, to note that nowadays majority of the college campus tours focus on amenities and social activities instead of visiting financial aid offices, professor’s offices or career services. Students and parents can plan their personal tours and can even supplement the pre-planned tours that are offered by colleges. Every family should take some specific steps while planning their college visits, regardless of whether the student is a junior just starting to look or a senior who is streamlining choices for the final application deadline.
College tours – Make the most out of them
- Check out the college campus online first: Before you visit the campus, make sure you check its website online and watch a few tour videos. It is through these videos that your teens will get a clear insight into what the environment of the campus looks like. If you see that there’s too little grass on the campus or that the campus does not have enough urban vitality, you can definitely eliminate scheduling a visit. You can even web chat with experts and admission officers as well.
- Call offices and ask important questions: Did you know that college tours can cost you from hundreds to thousands of dollars per visit? If you didn’t, it’s high time you ask your teen to call the college offices far in advance of your visit, so that you can make the most out of this costly trip. These college offices should definitely include the department offices of the prospective majors of the student. Ask some of the most vital questions, such as about the prospects of students post-graduation, internship opportunities and fees over phone.
- Fix advance appointments: Making advance appointments makes the difference between a successful college visit and a wasted one. Your teen should meet the professor(s) of his intended major, ask about the size of the classes, coursework and level of personal attention to students. As such meetings are held in one of those classrooms, it is likely that your teen can get the chance to visit some or most of the college campus as well.
- Make another conventional campus tour: It is fine to look at the gym, student union and dorms. These are some of the places with which your teen should be well acquainted, especially with regards to dorm food. This conventional tour of the campus is important, but don’t forget to add some other necessary appointments along with this tour.
Avoiding some of the most ineffective questions while on a college tour
Nearly all campus tour guides are either present students or former students. Hence, it is needless to mention the fact that they can turn out to be invaluable sources of opinions about the social life of the campus, the best classes, the dining hall food or the worst dorms. Why ask them the most irrelevant questions, to which they don’t have a good answer? Here are some questions to avoid.
Questions that the guide won’t know or would feel uncomfortable answering
As mentioned earlier, most guides are college students and thus you should be careful about what you ask them. Financial aid might be a subject too personal to talk to the guide about as it involves both parental and personal resources. A college tour guide who is also a student also might not be aware of how the college rewards loans or grants. Instead, you should ask your admissions counselor such questions related to financial aid.
Do you want to know about specialized learning needs? Even if you come to know that the tour guide has gone through a similar experience and has had a personal experience, he or she might not be comfortable to share this experience with you.
Finally, a college tour guide is very less likely to know about the decisions that are tackled at the administrative level. Asking his experience at the junior level may be fine but inquiring about the classes that are assigned adjuncts and those that have tenured professors may not lead to a well-informed answer.
Questions which can be answered by visiting the website of the college
Another kind of question that should be avoided are the ones that deals with figures and facts about the college. Any answer which includes statistics falls in this category—say for instance, the percentage of students who matriculate every year, size of an average class, percentage of students living on campus, the rate of graduation and so on. You needn’t avoid these questions entirely, but you can easily visit their website to find detailed answers.
Safety and crime are two other topics to consider. The statistics which you see on the website of the college might say a lot, but the college tour guide might also share his personal experience about safety around the campus. The website might discuss some useful measures like late night patrols or increased lighting throughout the campus, but hearing such things from a current student is definitely more useful.
We see that an effective college tour can offer you invaluable insight into the day-to-day life within a campus. You can make the most out of your tour time by targeting your queries to maximize informed, relevant answers. Irrespective of whether you belong to a low-income family or a wealthy household, the online report from the Department of Education offers insights on the best universities for you. Just take a tour and found out the most important information before applying for admission!
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.
– See more at: http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=5274#sthash.VPvUzzmK.dpuf