Casey and I have toured a lot of colleges together, so I’ve gotten to see firsthand the depth of analysis and consideration she applies to every college tour, information session, and casual stroll around a campus. She’s been actively thinking about the purpose and value of college tours for most of her adult life. So having her consolidate her thoughts and suggestions in one place is immeasurably valuable to me, to all of my students, to the families I’ve met at seminars, and to the counselors in my area who advise thousands of high school students every year.
One of the things I appreciate the most about this guide is the emphasis on first determining whether or not to visit a college at all. There is an almost infinite amount of information on college websites, YouTube, Google Maps, Yelp, and more that can give you a very detailed idea of what life is like at a particular college. For some schools, that can be more than enough information for you to know that a school has the experiences and opportunities you’re looking for.
If you decide that a college tour would be worthwhile, come prepared. I talk a lot about approaching this process thoughtfully, considering colleges from an academic, financial, social, and professional standpoint as you decide where to apply, how to articulate your fit, and where to eventually spend the next four years. The same principle applies to college visits. Take the time to think about what you haven’t been able to get a sense of from all your research, what you need to know about a specific major, club, or program that would make the difference between applying or not applying to this school. Think about what you want to do when you’re on campus, like sitting in on a class or having lunch with a current student, and make the necessary arrangements.
Above all, college tours should be fun. As our president, Kevin, says, touring colleges is like getting to shop for your own birthday present. You get to decide where, and how big or small, and what kind of people you want to be spend your time with, and how convenient it is to get Thai food at 2:00am. Everyone tells you how fun college is. Think of the tour as a sneak preview.