Making Every Minute of Your College Tour Count

Group portrait of young college students sitting on stairs in the collegePop quiz! Taking your first college tour can be:

  1. Exciting
  2. Fun
  3. Overwhelming
  4. All three

We vote for D. As thrilling as it is to actually BE at one of the places you’ve learned so much about, it’s a bit nerve-wracking as well. All kinds of thoughts float through your mind as you stroll across the campus. Look at those lucky students! They’re already in. They don’t have to worry about recommendations or application essays. Wow, look at that library! And the student center! What a place! How will I ever convince them to accept me?

Let’s stop right there. One of the ideas to keep foremost in mind when touring campuses is that the relationship between student and school is for the mutual benefit of both. Schools need to accept you. You also need to be satisfied with them. Schools want a student who will contribute to the community. You want an institution that will allow you to develop academically, personally, professionally…the list goes on.

It is to your advantage to spend as much of your time on campus evaluating your prospective school as you do worrying about how they might evaluate you.

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A few years ago, U.S. News and World Report published a helpful article called, “36 Questions to Ask on a College Visit.” Questions were divided into the categories of academics, academic perks, academic support, financial aid, graduation track record, outside opportunities, and student life. We offer a sample of each type of question below.

Academics: What is the average class size of introductory classes? Some students thrive in the traditional large lecture hall, professor-a-speck-on-the-stage format. Others prefer cozier everyone-around-the-table seminars. It’s important to know if the class setting you prefer will be available.

Academic Perks: How many students participate in undergraduate research? Participation in research projects allows faculty and other students to view you as a valuable team member—not just a note-taker in the fifth row.

Academic Support: Do you have a writing center and how do I access it? Never underestimate the value of dedicated writing center staff on the panicked night before three papers are due.

Financial Aid: What is the average college debt that students leave with? Not as much fun as knowing where the best Frisbee-playing spots are, but a crucial aspect of your final decision.

Graduation Track Record: What is your four-year graduation rate? It never hurts to start looking ahead.

Outside Opportunities: What type of career services do you have? We repeat: looking ahead is good. Those four years go by a lot faster than you might think.

Student Life: What activities are offered to students? Here, finally, is where you find out about Frisbee tournaments as well as anything from social clubs, to homecoming, to when to sing the school song and what colors the sports teams wear.

This could be your community—find out if you are eager to be a part of it!

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our focus is always on you. Our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you would like more information, our Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware are available to answer questions and provide solutions. You may reach either of them by calling A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at 215-886-9188.

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