Helpful Hints for Making the Most of a Campus Visit
On most campuses the tour guide is a student selected by the college for his or her ability to project a positive image of the institution to the prospective candidate. Some are a bit short on candor and somewhat hesitant to contradict the catalog or admissions officer. Others are very honest and open about their own experiences Remember a guide may be down on a particular college because he or she just flunked an exam. If you have a negative experience, try to meet other students before leaving campus. (Visit the student center, the athletic fields, lobby of a dorm or the cafeteria.)
Some Questions You Might Ask Your Campus Guide:
- How large are all of your classes?
- Who teaches you in these courses? (Graduate assistants or professors?)
- Does this school have a core curriculum? How restrictive is it? Is there a foreign language requirement?
- How adequate is the library? Are you able to get the books you need when you want them?
- When do you have to declare your major? What are the most popular majors?
- Tell me about housing. Are some dorms much better than others? Do many live off campus? If so, why?
- Do students seem to work primarily for grades? How competitive is the student body? What is the attitude towards working hard?
- Have you been in any faculty homes since you've been here? How available are your professors?
- Can you tell me anything first-hand about the (French, English, history) department?
- What's the biggest issue in local campus politics?
- What are the big issues in national or intentional politics? Are students politically active? Aware?
- What percentage of students study abroad at some time?
- What impact do fraternities have here? Athletics?
- What are weekends like? Are there alternatives to the typical party scene?
- How active is student government? What activities are popular?
- Are the Arts supported here? Are the courses oversubscribed? Which areas are strong?
- What do you think is the greatest shortcoming of this college? What do students complain about?
- What do you like best about your experience and education here?
- Where do students come from? Is this a diverse community?
- If you could attend another college now, where would you go? Why?
- Why did you choose this school? What others did you apply to?
- What kinds of kids do you think are happiest here? Which ones are least happy?
- Spend the night in the dorm and sit in on several classes.
- Pick up a copy of the latest campus newspaper.
- Read the course catalogue and check out the list of faculty, their degrees, and the courses they teach.
- Meet a coach if you are interested in a sport.
- Meet with the head of an activity if you have a particular interest you want to pursue in college.
- Meet with a department chairperson or any faculty member.
- Talk to everyone you happen to meet on campus about his or her experiences at the college.
- Go to the financial aid office and ask questions.
- Find out about the quality of the Career Placement Services office (The job placement percentage of grads through the career center).
*Sometimes it is impossible to visit a campus. You can still get a feel of a college by talking to recent graduates or current students from your area. At the minimum take a virtual tour on their website or a site such as Campus Tours.com.