Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

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Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Tours and Info Sessions

These are such wonderful ways to get information about a college! Just as a student will do with interviews, he or she should come equipped with a question of two about the college. Depending on the size of the group, he may even be remembered later on for asking his or her question in the information session! I always recommend that someone along for the trip (often the parent) take notes. The information divulged in the information session or on the tour may be very useful in addressing questions on the applications or in actual interviews. If a student has a choice of tour guide, he or she may select a guide who has a similar academic interest. (Sometimes colleges introduce the tour guides beforehand.) I find the attitude and interests of the tour guides stick with the guests long after the tour has concluded. If possible, see a dorm room on the tour!

Charlotte Klaar
Director Klaar College Consulting LLC

Maximizing your campus visit

The only way to get the most out of a campus visit is to participate in all that the college is offering. That means that you attend the information session, go on the campus tour and, if possible, attend a class. When all this is done, stop into the student union or dining hall and just watch what is going on. Do the students look happy? Stressed? Engaged with each other? You might also stop students on campus and ask about whether they have enjoyed their experience at the college, what year they are in, and other student life questions. As you go through the tour, look at the bulletin boards in the halls. What is happening on campus and what are the issues being talked about? How comfortable do you, the student, feel among the others on campus? Remember that you spend only 15 hours a week in class and the rest of the time you have to live there. Parents should try to keep their opinions to themselves until the student has had a chance to think about the visit and decide if this is a place that would make him happy.

Alexandra Young
Guidance Counselor Brookline High School

Do Your Research Before You Visit

The worst thing you can do when visiting a campus, is to go in clueless. Once you've found a college you'd like to learn more about, research the school using tools like Naviance or any of the college guidebooks. Once you know the basics (i.e. size, location, admission statistics, etc...) visit their website. The college website can provide you with a multitude of information including majors offered, graduation requirements, tutoring services, internship and research opportunities, extracurricular activities, and finally employment opportunities post graduation. The campus visit is a great time to ask clarifying questions about what you've learned from your prior research. In addition, the campus visit can help you figure out if the college is the right fit. Meaning, can you see yourself on that campus for the next four years? Is there enough to do? Is the area safe? Are there enough businesses in the area to provide internships in your major? Is the campus too far away from home? Etc... I always recommend that students take an hour, or more if you have the time, and "get lost" on campus. Go to the student center, get a coffee and the student paper, and just hang out to see if that environment suits you. You can do the same in a dining hall or even walking around the campus. Always ask yourself, "Can I see myself here for four years?"

Laurie Nash

Campus tours and info sessions

I encourage students to keep one notebook in which to take notes during and after the visit. Information given at the info session will help students write the answer to the "why" questions. After the tour and the info session, write down your feelings about the school....what you like and what you don't like. It will keep the experience fresh in your mind because after a while, the schools will blend.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

An Open Mind

You might attend some tours with a lot of knowledge about the school beforehand and you might attend others without too much knowledge about the institution. Either way -- try to go with an open mind. Try not to let others' perceptions and opinions about a school cloud YOUR feelings about the place. You might be surprised at the things that appeal to you and the things that don't. And try not to be too stressed out as you visit colleges and attend informational sessions. You are just gathering information and facts -- not committing to four years!

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

The Squeeky Wheel and the Empty Barrel

I've taken thousands of campus tours and listened to countless information sessions over the last decade as part of my educational consulting practice resulting in my attaining the title Certified Educational Panner. There is nothing that excited me more than exploring a campus I have not seen! The critical question for me is how to draw back the curtain and see behind the glossy photos and snappy PowerPoint presentations. That said, before I offer my "Dos" please abide by my "Do Nots". Please do not be the "empty barrel" who makes the most noise at the info session. We know you are only speaking to either hear yourself speak or to attempt to make an impression (which is seldom positive in this venue.) instead, nurture that relationship with your admission counselor with follow up emails with thoughtful content and enthusiasm. No gimmics please. Also, avoid being the "squeaky wheel" on campus tours. You may think you are "getting the grease" but really if you attempt to monopolize the tour guide with private dialogue, the rest of the group suffers. I advise that for a truly efficacious campus visit, be uninhibited with the "unscripted" folks: leave your parents at arm's length and sit in the dining hall. Approach current students with questions such as "Are you happy you decided to come here?" "What would you change about your college is you were given a million dollars." "How easy/difficult is it to register for the classes you want?" "Is it cool to be smart here?" If you are willing to make yourself vulnerable and ask around, you will truly reap the benefits of time well spent.

Janet Rosier
President Janet Rosier's Educational Resources

Make Your Trip Worthwhile

College Tours are a great way to get a real sense of the campus and its culture. The best time to do this is when the college is in session and the students are on campus Attend the information talk that the admissions offices give and take the campus tour. Ask questions of your tour guide and then, after the guided tour, take one on your own. Visit the student center and see what kinds of clubs and activities are popular on campus. Get a copy of the school newspaper and find out what the controversial issues or hot topics are. Don’t be shy about asking questions of students you meet--it has been my experience that students are happy to talk about their college experiences. Use this campus visit wisely--if you have a learning difference and expect to use accommodations, make an appointment to see the Office of Disability Service. You will get an idea of what accommodations they can provide, see how well the office runs and get a feel for how user friendly they are. If you play a sport, make an appointment to see the coach. Eat in the cafeteria so you can sample the food and also see how the students interact. If you are seeing more than one campus a day or several in a week, take good notes or the details may get forgotten!

Glenda Durano
Owner College Advising and Planning Services

Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

Before you visit a school, research it thoroughly. In addition to researching a school, however, know enough about yourself to know what you are looking for. What do you need in order to thrive? How do you learn best? How do make decisions? What opportunities do you need? If you have time after the tour and information session, hang around and speak to the students on campus--not the tour guides. Find out what why they chose the school and what they love the most as well as what they don't like. Ask about practical matters such as availability of professors, hands-on opportunities, graduation rates,class availability, and job placement rates. If possible, have a one-on-one dialogue with an admissions officer, but come prepared. Visiting a school is the most important factor in determining whether or not a school is a good fit, but in order to make the most of your time, come prepared and come with curiosity.

Dr. Skarlis
Owner/President The College Advisor of New York

Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

Evaluate the campus...Don't just look at the pretty buildings. Notice what kinds of students the campus attracts. Are they interacting with faculty? Does the environment seem welcoming? Do the students look a lot like your friends? Ask at least 2 questions on the tour or information session...Ask about the majors you're interested in, and try to meet with a faculty member in that department for at least 15 minutes. Engage in your visit and try to determine if this school will be a good fit for you based on a logical assessment - not your "gut feeling." Also, record your thoughts when you get into the car immediately after the visit. Write down 5 or 6 pros and cons about each school. This will help you decide whether to apply at a later time.

Nicholas Umphrey

Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

If you go into a tour blind, you will limit what you get out of it. Research each school you tour and why you are interested in it. Ask questions during the tour, observe a class, speak to a professor in your discipline. This next tip, a parent of one of my students gave me and it is terrific. Go to a local student hangout, not a bar, but a coffee shop, pizza place, etc and look around at the students and how they interact with each other. If you can see yourself with this crowd, you will know whether it is a good fit.