College Tour Hacks

College Tour Hacks

Bonnie Horn, Staff Writer

With the pandemic still running rampant around the world, seniors have been struggling to achieve one of the key milestones of their high school career – college tours. Physically walking around campus is crucial to deciding which college you are going to call home for the next four years, and sadly, many seniors are being denied that chance. Personally, I’ve been on three “college tours”  this year which consisted of my family and I walking around the campus trying to guess the names of buildings we never got to go into, but from experience, I have found a few life hacks to make the most out of your campus visit. 


Tip #1  

Make a Map 

On any college website, you can easily print out a map online, and adding bullet points or small photos beside locations makes it just fine when you can only walk outside the brick walls. This makes it easy to remember which dorm hall had a private bath or that the gym comes with a swimming pool. Having a detailed map can make you feel like you’re still exploring the campus without ever having to step through a doorway.  


Tip #2

Take a Virtual Tour First

Many colleges are currently hosting online campus tours, so you can still see the inside of buildings and even ask questions with students and professors afterward. This is a great way to see your dorm layout to get an idea of what to bring, find a future favorite study spot, and virtually ask a student where the best dining hall is. You can still get a taste of the inside-of-campus hot spots from the comforts of your home, and personally, I recommend just staying in your pj’s when on the zoom meeting. 


Tip #3 

Email the head of a department you’re interested in 

This may seem like both a waste of your time and theirs, but academic advisors and department heads chose their career paths because they are interested in what you offer, and will gladly show you what they bring to the table. Ask advisors what their program entails, how well do they network you to future career paths, what interesting technology or research projects do students do, or anything else you can think of. I personally chose to email the head of the major I was interested in, and they emailed me back in a matter of days with a detailed report about their program as well as several websites and extracurricular activities I should look into. This is a great way to get to know your school, and when you walk alongside those buildings you can know that you are about to accomplish great things in those classrooms and someday change the world with your ideas. 


Tip #4

Talk to Current Undergraduates 

Reddit, Instagram, and other forms of social media are right at your fingertips and are great ways to reach out to current students at your chosen university and learn just why they chose to go there. Ask them what it was like when they took an official college tour, and what part of that experience guided them to their decision. Take time to get to know current students’ favorite spots on campus, where are certain classrooms, or where is the best place to park your car on game day. Undergraduates are fountains of information, so don’t waste the opportunity to get to know their perspectives on campus and maybe even make new friends along the way. 


Tip #5

Go Outside of Campus 

Exploring the city outside of just where your classes will be is a great way to decide if you can really see yourself somewhere for the next four years. Eat at student recommended diners, go to parks and relax in the fresh air, or just drive around and sightsee from the safety of your car. Sometimes, you may find that city life is just not quite your style, or maybe it’s the perfect fit. On the other hand, maybe living in a more rural place is just a bit too quiet for you, or not hearing sirens and bustling traffic when you’re trying to sleep is exactly what you want. Either way, you don’t have to be confined to the campus to still get an idea of what this next chapter of your life might be like. 


Just because covid has changed quite a bit of what the typical senior year looks like doesn’t mean your college visits have to be depressing and uninformative. It just takes a little bit of added effort on your part, but in exchange, you get an ideal touring experience that you’ll never forget nor regret.