Before applying to college, it is important to research and actually visit college campuses. As a student working in the admissions office at Wheelock College, I have given countless tours in the past two years to prospective students and families. Below, I have written tips for prospective students and families on visiting college campuses.
Most colleges offer tours daily, but the best time to take a tour is usually during admissions events, such as fall open houses and information sessions. During these events, admissions staff and counselors are available to answer any questions about financial aid, the admissions process, and courses. In addition, many students work at these events; thus prospective students have the opportunity to get a variety of current students’ perspectives and experiences to get a better feel for the school. I see prospective students get crucial questions answered on tours and from talking to current students at these events.
While on tour, it is important to be respectful of the tour guide; I have seen so many students talking and being inconsiderate to tour guides. Oftentimes, tour guides will divulge crucial information, for example how students obtain work-study positions on campus, and students who were talking make the tour guide repeat the information, which wastes other students’ time. Students should be mindful of the questions they ask; asking about the tour guide’s personal information such as his or her love life or nearest liquor stores to buy alcohol are not important questions that students should ask. Inquire about subjects such as cafeteria food, laundry, campus safety, library hours, and dormitory life. Students should try to see themselves as students at that particular college and ask questions that would help them get a better feel for student life.
Many colleges will have mock dorm rooms set up for admissions tours; at Wheelock; student tour guides are obligated to show their own rooms (yes, we clean them first!) to give prospective students an accurate feel for dorm life. If you are at a college and want to see a “real” student’s room simply ask the tour guide or office manager in the admissions office if they feel comfortable showing another dorm room. If the college really wants to “sell” the school, staff and students will be willing to accommodate prospective families and students.
Overall, it is important to be respectful and ask for relevant and important information. It is important to obtain as much information as possible in order to get a feel for the college and what it will be like to be a student there. Have fun and explore the campus as much as possible!