Campus Tours after You've Been Accepted to College: How to Make the Most of Your Visit
If you are considering campus tours after you've been accepted to a few colleges, the first thing we have to say isâ€¦ congratulations! You've already accomplished a lot: getting tons of college advice, researching different universities, completing applications, and maybe even going through a college interview.
It's possible that you've also gone on campus tours to these and other universities thanks to help from the College Trip Planner. So, you might be asking, "What should I do differently on these visits?" Read on to find out.
Knowing What Matters on Your Campus Tours
At this point in your college search, you may have a set of criteria that matter most to you in choosing a college. For some students, it's the location of the campus. For others, it's the excellence of a specific academic program, student organizations, or athletics. Still other people are drawn to a school because of a great experience that they had during an earlier college visit.
Here's the first way for you to make the most of your campus tours after you've been accepted:
- Write down the criteria that matter to you. Also, write down the colleges you are planning to visit now that you've been accepted.
- Compare each college to these criteria. Think about everything you have researched online, in guidebooks, and potentially in previous campus tours.
- Not sure if a college has the academic program you want or if athletics are a big part of student life? Make a note if you feel that you don't have enough information to evaluate the college on important criteria.
You should be left with a list of things you know and like about each college. More importantly, you'll have a list of questions for college students and admissions officers when you take your campus tours. This process can also help you determine which colleges are most important for you to visit (or re-visit) and which are a lower priority.
What to Do on Campus Tours after You've Been Accepted
If this is your first visitâ€¦
First, be sure to check out the resources in our College Advice section. We've got tons of ideas for what to do on campus and how to prepare for your trip.
We recommend that you participate in campus tours and information sessions to get an overall feel for what each college has to offer. Make sure you get a chance to see the inside of the residence halls, student center, library, and other facilities connected with your personal or academic interests.
Also, take the time to explore the area around the campus. It's important to know what stores, entertainment, and dining options are nearby as well as how easy it is to get around the city where you'd be living.
The good news: you've already put together questions about the college (see above!), so you will be focused on specific aspects of the experience. During your time with the admissions office or while walking around campus, take the opportunity to ask current students these questions. Also ask where students spend their time, why they chose the college, why they think it's a good fitâ€¦ and maybe, what they wish they had known before enrolling.
If this is your second visit to the campusâ€¦
Don't fall into the trap of "been there, done that." Even if you've been on campus tours and spoken with admissions before, you are coming to these college visits with a different perspective and a new set of questions.
Take advantage of these activities, especially if you are uncertain about starting conversations with students on campus (see "Campus Tour Time? Four Tips to Help an Uncertain High Schooler Have an Incredible Experience".) A discussion with admissions or campus tour gives you an immediate audience with people who can talk with you about programs and organizations that interest you.
Even better: speak with the admissions office a few weeks before your trip and request the chance to meet with students, professors, or coaches involved in your areas of interest. Often, the admissions office can connect visitors with a "student ambassador" who is studying a certain academic subject, from your same geographic area, or involved in a specific extracurricular.
These ambassadors may be able to host you during your visit and introduce you to other students so you'll have a real opportunity to learn about the collegeâ€¦ and feel less like a visitor.
If the college offers a visit program to accepted studentsâ€¦
Many admissions offices invite admitted students to a special program on campus. During these events, admissions staff members make themselves available for questions and provide a variety of resources you might otherwise have to organize yourself (like travel, room, and meals).
One particularly valuable opportunity: you may be able to stay overnight with a current student. These student hosts can help you participate in student organizations, show you around the college, and tailor the visit to your interests.
We definitely recommend participating in these programs. However, you may also want to explore campus informally so that you can talk with students and get to know the college beyond official campus events.
Making Your Decision Based on Campus Tours
When you get back from your campus tours, your head may be filled with all of the options available to you. Likely, you'll also have a ton of catch-up schoolwork and thank-you messages to send (see "What to Do after College Visits".) Still, it's important to take the time as soon as possible to evaluate your experiences.
Look back over that list of criteria. Hopefully, you've been able to fill in the gaps and decide for yourself whether the colleges that accepted you are the right option. Still uncertain about specific programs or not sure if campus life is a fit? Reconnect with the people you met on your campus tours, discuss your concerns with your parents, and talk with alumni of the college (your high school counselor or consultant may know someone to whom you can be introduced.)
By the end, you'll likely have one best option suited to your interests: a college that meets most of your criteria, gave you a positive campus experience, and offers you a great future.