Choosing the right college to attend or even apply to can be a confusing and stressful experience. The campus tour typically ends up becoming a HUGE factor in deciding which college is the right fit for you. But how should you really approach the campus tour? Most parents and students come to the campus tour and treat it as more of a Q&A session than anything else. As a former tour guide and someone who toured tens of colleges during my own college search, I am here to share with you the 2 things you really should be doing on your college tour.
1) Are they smiling?
One thing I always took careful note of was whether students and faculty were smiling. You’d be surprised, when you actually pay careful attention, how many schools are full of students who walk to class with their headphones in, heads down, faces sullen. At the time, I wasn’t positive whether this actually reflected the consistent mood of the campus, but after knowing friends who ended up attending these places I can tell you that my observations spoke VOLUMES. Whenever I told them how much I enjoyed school, how fun it was, and how I can’t wait to return after break, these friends would always look bewildered. They thought school was miserable. Had they looked at the faces of the students before them, they would have known that before having committed four years of their lives to the same misery.
2) What does your gut say?
Don’t get me wrong – scholarships, academic prestige, tech resources, are all extremely important, but remember – college is also where you will sleep, eat, drink, socialize, work, relax and study every day for the next four years of your life. With this in mind, finding a school that is the right fit is a lot like hunting for that perfect house. The vibe you get – that feeling in your gut may be one of the most important factors in deciding whether the school is right for you.
During my college search days, I was deciding between several schools to apply to. On paper, the one that I chose seemed like the worst fit for me – there was no football team (I love football), they did not offer me a scholarship, and it was geographically distant from where I had planned on attending school. However, when I took that college tour, my heart felt right. I knew in my gut that this school (it was Loyola University Maryland, btw) was the right choice for me.
Noticing the smiling students and listening to my gut resulted in 4 of the best years of my life and one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.
Photo Credit: Matt Laskowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/