The student news site of Troy High School

The Chariot

The student news site of Troy High School

The Chariot

The student news site of Troy High School

The Chariot

College Tours 101: Mastering the Art of Campus Reconnaissance

Get the most out of your college tour in five simple steps.
Grace Haugk

While on your college search, application and preparation journey, you’re likely to tour a few colleges. Many schools offer free student-led tours of campus as well as an admissions presentation. These are a great way to get a feel for what your experience might be as a student on this campus and in this community. It’s also a great way to know what admissions officers are looking for in applications and better your chances of getting into the school of your choice. 

Despite these benefits, college tours can be brief, overwhelming and unhelpful if you aren’t prepared. These five tips will help you get the most out of any college tour and admissions presentation to leave you feeling confident and assured in your experience. 


1: Come prepared. 

While this may seem obvious, ignoring this step can be detrimental to your college tour experience. Having comfortable walking shoes is a must as you will be visiting many places across campus that are often far from each other. The last thing you need is for a blister to appear in the middle of your tour. You’ll also want to carry a small water bottle to keep you hydrated on your trek. 

Furthermore, be sure to check the weather. You may need sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella, a jacket or a hat to keep the weather from interfering with your experience. 

You won’t only need to be prepared physically; it pays to have prior knowledge of the college you’re touring. If you’ve researched a certain building or area on campus, you can use this time to visit it in person. Knowing a bit about the college already can also keep this tour from feeling overwhelming since not all the information thrown at you will be new. 


2: Ask lots of questions. 

This is your best chance to learn things about this school that you might not be able to access elsewhere. Many visitors want to know about the general student experience. Some good questions to ask to gauge this include: 

  • Can students have a car on campus? 
  • Are dorm rooms air-conditioned?
  • What amenities were the most important/useful to you as a student? 
  • What items are provided in dorms? (bedframes, desks, etc.)
  • What benefits are accessible for students off-campus, such as free/reduced membership prices or access to public transport? 

This is also a great time to ask more specifics that might be of interest to you. Some great questions to ask in this regard are:

  • What intramural sports are offered? 
  • Are there internship or job opportunities nearby? 
  • Are there any coffee shops on campus? 
  • Are there religious spaces nearby? 
  • What do the engineering spaces/facilities look like?


3: Take notes. 

Taking notes might not be the most exciting activity, but it can help you remember specifics about the school you might otherwise forget. In the admissions presentation, be sure to jot down what the college is looking for in an application, what predetermined tracks are offered and what schools within the college interest you. 

There are also many things you might want to make note of on your campus tour. Be sure to write down any amenities you might want to research more, certain characteristics you find particularly enticing or unpleasant and programs such as Greek life or an honors college that are available on campus. 

These notes don’t have to be in-depth or complete. A single word or phrase can be enough to jog your memory when looking back on your notes from your tour. 


4: Have an open mind. 

While on a tour, you might feel that this is definitely the place for you. While this may be true, keep in mind that colleges are attempting to sell themselves to you on their tours and may include only the most ideal parts of their campus or student experience. 

On the other hand, you might feel immediately off-put by something you discover on the tour. It’s important to recognize what’s typical of colleges in general and what’s unique about this school. For example, many students may be put off by the idea of sharing a dorm room with up to three other people, but this is a reality on many college campuses. Students may also find large class or lecture sizes unsavory, but this is also something found at most universities. 


5: Visit surrounding areas. 

Your tour is likely to stay on campus, but that doesn’t mean you have to. If this is a college you’re strongly considering, visiting the city around the university can give you a better feel of the community and of your possible future experiences as a student in this area. Some places to consider visiting are museums, parks, libraries, coffee shops, other schools in the same area and available on-campus buildings that were not shown on your tour. Visiting these areas can help you get a stronger feel for the community within and surrounding the college. It can also help you decide whether you would enjoy the student experience there. 


With these five tips, you’ll be able to get the most out of any college tour and admissions presentation. The college search and application process can feel overwhelming, but this part doesn’t have to be. 

Touring season is typically from late spring to early fall, though some schools may offer year-round tours. To ensure you’ll be able to tour the school of your choice, check their website for available tour dates as soon as possible. 

Happy touring!

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About the Contributor
Grace Haugk, Body Copy Editor & Graphics Team
Grace Haugk, a senior, is excited to start their second year with The Chariot as a Body Copy and Graphics Editor. They love the community here at the quaint little school newspaper and have written many articles with them, including "English: Rewritten", and "Under Attack: The Recent Transphobic Legislation in the U.S.". They joined the newspaper as a creative outlet for their writing, graphic design, and journalism interests. When they're not editing articles at 2 a.m., they're obsessing over Heartstopper, Red, White & Royal Blue, Taylor Swift and John Frank Stevens. Find them performing onstage or writing novels while burning all 15 candles they own at once.
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