Before the tour
In order to complete a successful and worthwhile tour, you must first determine which colleges are worth the visit. Brian LaPorte, the College and Career Counselor at Naperville North High School, noted that there is a duality of importance when considering what colleges to tour.
“At the end of the day, yes, you want to go visit the schools that you are able to attend, but there’s something to be said about just going and getting familiar with a college campus in general,” LaPorte said.
Once you’ve got an idea of potential schools, think about the location. Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city? Narrow your list to urban campuses. What about sunny weather? Southern schools might be the way to go.
Now, consider your potential major. Take some time to look at the programs of the schools you're interested in, and see which ones cater to your interests the best.
Finally, it’s time to think about the cost of tuition. I know this may sound daunting, but don’t worry: student loans are one way to help pay tuition. If you need extra help, most colleges offer some form of financial aid.
Now that you’ve done your research, you should have a list of colleges that are right for you. These are the colleges that you should visit and tour.
During the tour
You’ve finally reached your destination and are now ready to begin your college tour. It’s easy to get distracted by the energetic student life, or pause to check out the new Starbucks in the main hall, but it’s important to remember why you’re here and what you’re looking for.
Pay attention to the feel of the campus while you’re walking around. It’s important that you like the campus and the setting, as you may spend the next four years of your life there. Hannah Steinbrenner, the Coordinator of Campus visits at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted how important it is to take in the sights and sounds of a college campus.
“You can get a lot of initial information on programs and just information about schools online, but I think you really don’t have a good sense of if that school’s going to be the right fit for you until you actually come on campus for an official visit. That’s by far how I recommend students [to] really make the best college decision,” Steinbrenner said.
The community of a college definitely serves as another important aspect to take into consideration. If you visit a college while students are on campus, take time to observe the environment and feel the atmosphere. Take note of social activities that you may be interested in, such as Greek life, clubs or intramurals.
What matters most, however, is that the school is a good fit for you. At the end of the day, the main question to ask yourself is this: could you see yourself being happy there for four years? If the answer is yes, you may have found a college to further pursue!
Photography by Lauren Gignac