A student wants to visit a potential college first before they send in their applications for several reasons. After all, campus tours are crucial parts of the university/college selection process. Orientation packets and college catalogs can only give students a glimpse at what a potential school has to offer.

Although a university or college may look perfect on paper, it may not be a good fit when you attend the campus in person (or virtually, given the current COVID-19 situation). By visiting the school, you’ll gain a better understanding of the campus and envision what your campus life might be like.

It doesn’t matter if you try virtual video tours of a college or visit the university in person, a campus tour gives you the chance to interact with current students, envision yourself on the campus and get a feel of what your life could be like at this school.

Use Social Media for Your Research

If you’re visiting a potential campus, chances are that you’ve done a bit of research to figure out if the school is a good fit for you. Surprisingly, many students and parents show up to the college tour with zero knowledge of the school.

To enjoy the full experience, you have to know what you’re looking for. Research is important, but the places where students can learn more about a school are continuously shifting. Brochures, college guides and websites are shifting to more interactive platforms.

A survey from the US News revealed that out of 7,000 high school students, 68 percent of the students use social media to learn more about potential schools during their college search process. Of those 68 percent, 55 percent of the students say that a school’s Facebook page is their go-to social media research platform.

Learning more about a school by reading their social media profiles is a good pre-visit research method. By watching the videos or browsing the photos, you gain a good feel of the school’s informal interaction with the students.

What To Expect on Campus

In general, bigger universities have a visitor center staffed by members of the admissions office. The staff often holds group information sessions before a student-led campus tour. During this part of the tour, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more general information.

Smaller universities or liberal arts schools have group information sessions and an office of admission, which also concludes with student-led tours.

In both cases, the campus tour will last about an hour and include touring the student center, academic building, dorm room, dining hall and library. But the campus tour isn’t just about seeing the sights. It should also be about seeing how you can relate to the students and the school, and if you feel like you’d fit in well. During the tour, you’ll see how members of the university interact with each other, as well as get a better feel of what the daily routine for students is like.

What You Should Look for on a Campus Visit

Here are some things to look for in your campus tour:

Guided Walkthrough Tour

When you visit the campus, make sure they offer a guided tour. It may seem unusual but some schools do not include a comprehensive tour of the campus and its facilities. As students guide you around the college, take the time to get a good look at the buildings and other areas of the campus. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions about campus life and more.

Your campus visit should include a trip to the financial aid departments and admission offices, as well as the dormitories and major classroom buildings. This may sound like a lot, but visiting these places will give you a good feel of the college grounds.

Virtual Tours and Photos of the Campus

Many schools now offer virtual tours via the Internet, which is a great perk considering the current COVID-19 situation. While these are helpful during the first stages of your interest in campus, they do not capture the school’s atmosphere 100 percent. Use these tours as a way of narrowing down your university choices.

Dorm Room Stay

Many universities offer prospective students the opportunity to stay at the dorm as part of their university visit. This is a good chance to experience first-hand life on campus. You can share a room with other friends and get a feel of the school’s living conditions.

Once you’ve earned your high school degree, it’s time to welcome your new college with open arms. A campus visit is your “first date” with potential schools. If you want to learn more about a school, join these visits so you can get a better feel of your future school.