By: Sophie Johnson
Small liberal arts school in the mountains. Busy school in the city. Huge school in the South. Quirky school in the North. Europe. Australia. Military. Gap year.
Ladies and gentlemen… it’s all starting. Where do I want to spend the next phase of my life? What type of campus feels most “right”? Should I take the SATs one more time? Do I not like the school because of the weird tour guide?
All of these questions and more are starting to enter our heads. We are juniors starting to dip our feet in the water, seniors stressing out and needing to make a decision, or sophomores that are really ahead of the game. Regardless, the college process is such an intense and infamous ‘thing’ that it gets its own name. When someone says “the college process,” palms all around the world begin to sweat. Heads spin and and pens start clicking. This being said, thinking about college can also be a super exciting thing.
Here are a couple tips that are crucial to surviving the college touring process.
- Bring a cute notebook and your favorite pen. You’ll soon notice that when touring colleges, different schools can start to blend together. So, you will want to jot down what sticks out, what you like, and what you don’t like about each place!
- Eat in the dining hall. This is a very easy and inexpensive way to observe what students that go to that school are like.
- Bring an umbrella. The minute that it takes to throw it in the car is so worth it. Trust me.
- Ask about social life. Ask your tour guide what the typical Friday night or day on campus looks like. What about off-campus?
- Go on Niche or Unigo. These websites provide student opinions of the school and can be very helpful in finding information that your tour guide might not cover.
- Pick the tour guide that speaks the loudest. It’s much less frustrating to follow a loud voice, especially when you’re walking around outside.
- Listen to your emotional reaction. Get in tune with how that school makes you feel. How safe would you feel if you were somewhere other than your dorm at 2 a.m.?
- Figure out what the freshman year housing is like. Are you looking for a single? A double? On-campus? Off-campus?
- Decide what academic calendar you like best. Would you rather a short winter break and an early summer? A summer on-campus? A study abroad?
- Learn about the average class size. Do you prefer big or small classes? Will your teacher know your name?
All of these pieces of advice will help to build a positive experience while college touring. This being said, picturing yourself living somewhere is an extremely personal endeavor. When it all comes down to it, don’t apply to the place with the lowest acceptance rate or most famous name just for the sake of it. Apply to the school where you can look out over the quad and picture yourself happily reading a book. Apply to the school whose students make you feel welcome and valued. You know yourself better than a family member, teacher, friend, or college counselor does. Listen to your emotional reaction, pack a journal and some comfortable shoes, and fill up your gas tank. Happy touring 🙂