How will you know that you really like a college? How will you compare a college’s pros and cons against one another? It’s easy to forget certain details about a college especially if you take a campus tour months apart. This checklist will help you scope out each college and note the items to pay close attention to. This way, you can make a more informed decision when choosing your school.
Check out this video by Channel 7, WXYZ in Detroit to learn how to make the most of your college visit.
1. College Classrooms
You may or may not be able to check out the classrooms at the college during a college tour. Some college tours will not take you inside classroom buildings when class is in session. However, if you do get a chance to check them out, here are some points to consider. Are the classrooms spacious and technologically advanced? Are the classrooms dark or is there natural light from windows. If you can’t tour the classrooms, ask if there are lecture halls and find out how big are and how many students can you expect to be in class with you.
2. Campus Dorms
If you plan on living in a college’s dorms, you definitely want to place a priority on the living space. On your campus visit, you’ll likely see an example dorm. If not, ask to see one of the freshman dorm rooms. If you’ve never toured a dorm before, don’t expect a 5-star hotel. Dorm rooms are not typically luxury apartments. However, you do want to be sure it provides an environment where you can sleep and study. Here are some considerations to be aware of.
- Is the bathroom a shared bathroom with your entire hall or is there a bathroom in your dorm room?
- How many roommates will you likely have?
- What type of furniture comes with the room?
- Is there storage space?
- Do you have your own desk and closet?
- What common living areas are there?
- Is there a place for you to store food or cook?
Next, check out the dorm’s location in proximity to your classrooms and other campus locations like the gym or cafeteria. A closer location to other buildings you’ll access may be important to you especially if you plan on going to college in a location that has more severe weather. If you see a student at the dorms, ask them what they like and dislike about the dorms. Here’s another tip. Ask if cable, utilities, and Internet are included just to be safe.
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3. Parking at the College
Some colleges require you to have a parking pass or they have limited (or no) parking available for incoming freshmen. Ask about the school’s campus parking rules. A lot of campuses have designated spots for faculty and staff, so make sure you know where students can park. You also want to observe if another mode of transportation would be more beneficial. For example, some college students rely on a longboard or skateboard to get to and from class quickly and other students prefer bikes. These low-cost forms of transportation can be invaluable and require no gas or car insurance!
Most likely, some of your meals at college will come from the college’s cafeteria or on-campus restaurant options. The average college student eats on-campus at least twice a day. You’ll want to check out your dining options. Some campuses may have more than one dining hall, so you should be prepared to investigate all of them since one may more convenient to your dorm location. Here’s another tip. Find out the cafeteria’s hours and hours of any on-campus restaurant options as well. Most colleges offer a dining card. Find out how much it is and what dining options it covers. Also, ask if there is a ‘use or lose’ policy. Meaning, if you don’t use all the money on your dining card will you lose it.
5. College Medical Clinic
The college of your choice may have a medical clinic with qualified medical professionals who are available. This is convenient should you want a regular checkup or come down with an illness. You don’t need to check out the clinic during your college tour, but you should ask about it and find out where it’s are located. Ask about the clinic’s hours, the cost to access it, and what type of services they offer. There may even be counseling services for students as well. Going to college is a big life change and it can be helpful for students to have an extra layer of support while they transition into college life.
6. College Gym
Check out the college gym and find out the hours. The campus may also have a basketball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball courts, and a pool if you’re lucky. The gym may also be where the college recreation board is posted listing out a calendar of fun activities. This can even include when college tryouts are or when intramural sports start. This is a great way to make new friends, especially if you are an incoming freshman. Also, college gyms today offer a lot more than you expect! The college could have a rock climbing wall and an indoor track. There can also be exercise classes such as yoga, strength training, and Tai Chi!
7. College Hotspots
Did you know that some colleges have their own bowling alley and can have on-going field trips to fun locations off-campus? Many colleges place as much emphasis on their student’s experience outside of the classroom as they do the education. That’s because they want to encourage students to get out of their dorm and meet other students. This helps create a social, engaging environment for all students to flourish so they can have a positive college experience.
8. Check out the College Town
You’ll want to take time to check out the area that surrounds your college. Are there things to do that you enjoy? Perhaps you want a college town with a cool downtown or maybe you want your college to be located with a ton of outdoor activities. Check to see if there is public transportation from your college to the nearby town. Even if you own a car, parking in a college town can be tough or expensive. Taking public transportation may be easier, quicker, and less expensive. Students may even get a discount or ride for free.
9. Talk to College Students and Staff
Seek out current students, faculty, and other support staff during your campus visit. If you have an opportunity, ask them questions about the college, their personal experiences, and what they think the positives of the school is compared to others. Someone else’s experience or view can help you make the right decision. To ensure accurate information speak to more than one person. If you are shy of asking strangers, college tour guides are often students themselves and are always happy to answer them.
10. Take photos, videos, and grab any marketing material
Pick up any college material that you find and take lots of pictures and videos with your phone. This can help you jog your memory later or will provide more detailed information that you may have missed during your tour. If you are in high school, your friends and family will also likely want to know how the tour went and you’ll have something to show them. Look to see if there is a college paper and local paper that you can pick up. This can have a list of current events and give you a sense of life at the college. Grabbing a local community paper on your way home is also a good idea as it can give you a sense of the politics, sports, and culture of the area you will be surrounded by.