When students first begin to research colleges and universities, their options often exist only within pamphlets and webpages. But soon you move on to campus tours, where an entirely new set of questions presents itself—not questions about basic admissions procedures and costs, but instead complex questions about academics and student life. Because most students only visit a prospective college once, it is important to ask the right questions when you have the opportunity. Here are five that can help you maximize your time at each school on your list:
“What are classes like?”
The most important aspect of college is your education. As such, take advantage of your time on campus to gain a sense of what your classes might be like. For instance, ask to visit a large lecture hall and a small conference room. Do you feel comfortable in these spaces? You can also ask your tour guides (and other friendly faces around campus) about their classes. If you have a specific major in mind, inquire about courses in that field. Are they challenging? Are students in this major well supported by the school? What will your professors generally expect of you?
“Where can I study?”
You should also use your time on campus to learn more about what studying is like at this school. Where do most students work? Their dorms? The library? As you tour the college or university, note the spaces where students are clearly reviewing. Do they look crowded or comfortable? Quiet or noisy?
“How do people relax here?”
As important as learning is, it is healthy to balance intense study with recreation and socialization. So—what extracurriculars exist on campus? If you enjoy the outdoors, for example, ask if there is an outdoor club. You can also ask where most students spend their weekends. Do they visit museums, restaurants, or shops in town? Do they participate in club sports?
“What is transportation like?”
Many schools in the United States offer free or discounted public transportation to their students (though this cost may be hidden in your semester fees). When you visit a campus, try to learn a bit about the local public transportation. If your ideal college or university does not have great transportation options, you may need to decide whether you can afford the expense of a car or a bike.
“What unique opportunities does this school offer?”
As you tour each campus on your list, try to determine what sets the school apart from the others that you are considering. For instance, are there incredible internship or study abroad opportunities? Has the alumni association contributed to the successful careers of former students? Are any of the science departments leading groundbreaking research in an area that interests you? Are there any professors on campus who give particularly moving lectures? One great way to find answers to these questions is to ask staff and students about what aspect of the college is most special.
Ultimately, remember to keep your eyes and ears open. Soak in as much detail as you can. Keep an open mind, and take your time. Your perfect school may be only a campus tour away.