Find Out What A College Is Really Like

By Explore Editor

Janet Alexander, an organizational studies/media studies major at Pitzer College, asks students how they got a sense of each college's "vibe" during campus visits.


Mark Montgomery, Ph.D., president of Montgomery Educational Consulting, speaks with a University of Alabama tour guide who reveals the four things you should always do when visiting a college campus.


Dr. Lucia Tyler, founder of Tyler Admissions Consulting, shares her top eleven tips for college visits.

Many families only have time to visit college campuses in the summer. Here is my list of the top eleven things to do and see on a college visit.

11. College bookstore: Check out what books have been written by the college faculty. Can you find something interesting to read or is it mainly a place to buy boxer shorts and umbrellas imprinted with the college logo?

10. Edges of the campus: You can evaluate possible student hangouts and the safety of the neighborhood.

9. College admissions office: Arrange to meet an admissions counselor if possible since many colleges track student interest in their campus.

8. College info-session: Here is the place to find out what’s new and unique about this college. These all start to sound the same after a while so note what is different about the college.

7. College tour: This is a chance to get an overall feel for the campus and ask questions. Try not to love or hate the school based on the tour guide.

6. College bulletin boards: Get a taste of weekday and weekend activities. Have you always wanted to go to a “shaving cream” party? What about that environmental film festival?

5. College newspaper: A great place to find frank student opinions and issues on campus.

4. Student fitness center and athletic facilities: Students often come here to take a break from studies. Be sure to check out what the hours of operation are.

3. College library: Is this a place that is comfortable to study in by yourself and in groups? After all education is why you came, right?

2. Student union and college dining facility: Try the food! This is hard to do via internet.

1. Students: Try to talk to students who are not employees of admissions for the straight story on the college. You can usually find them at the student union or dining facility. If they are on break ask in admissions if you can have contact information for a student in your proposed major.