With COVID vaccines widely available and many high school students vaccinated, physical campus tours are coming back. Many families are hitting the road to visit colleges this summer, and we want to provide advice on how to make the most of the experience. Ideally, visiting a campus in the fall or spring when classes are in session can give the best impression of campus life, but there’s plenty to see in the summer, too. Of course, colleges have their own “Campus Tour” options available to interested students and you should sign up for those. However, don’t stop there. Here is some advice to take your campus tour to the next level:

  1. Call ahead to see if you can arrange to tour a specific building or department of interest. Bonus if a current faculty member or student can lead the tour.
  2. Check to see if there are any campus events occurring during your visit: athletic events, performances, presentations, festivities, etc.
  3. Make sure to allow plenty of time to explore the college town; take time to sit and people watch.
  4. If there are students on campus, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation and ask them about their experiences.
  5. Ask your tour guide about Freshman Experience or Learning Community programs for incoming students.
  6. Take plenty of pictures during your tour/time at the campus. You may want to make a list on your phone and rank the school as you go. For example, you might list categories like: “Campus Aesthetic,” “Campus Size,” “Friendliness of Folks,” “Campus Perks,” “Food/Entertainment Options,” “Classroom/Building Quality and Amenities,” “Ease of Navigation,” “Residential Life,” and other categories that might be important to you. Give each campus visit a ranking in each category from 1-10, so you can refer to that later if you are having difficulty recalling your visit and are deciding between different options.

Don’t forget to make use of the college website, virtual tours, YouTube videos, online discussion forums, and other sources of information about the school, too. Lastly, make sure to stop by the Office of Admissions and make an introduction. “Demonstrated Interest” is a category that is considered in the admissions process. If you are not already on a mailing list for the school, be sure to give your information to the Admissions Office before you leave campus. Above all, try your best to picture yourself on that campus and see how it feels. Ask yourself, “Would I enjoy spending the next 4+ years here?”