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Why you should tour a campus independently

Jamie Ballard

An intimate tour will give you more of an idea of the day-to-day life

If you want to get a feel for a college campus, you should consider touring it on a day that isn’t an official tour day. Here’s why:

You’ll get a better sense of what the college is really like. On official “Meet Our Campus” days, the college or university will typically go all-out in making sure the campus is pristine, the food is top-notch, and the lectures you visit are exciting. And that’s a great thing, but it might give you an inflated idea about the college. If you can, I suggest going on a different day, so that you can really understand what a typical day at the university is, without someone trying to hype it up.

You might get more personal attention. You can often book a guide to show you around campus on a less-busy day. What’s more, you can sometimes even talk to advisors in your preferred department to ask about what they like to see from incoming students. If you’re a junior in high school, you can see what senior-year classes they like to see. If it’s summer, you can ask what they think the best use of time is – an internship? Job? Volunteer work in your major?

You can (maybe) sit in on a class that interests you. Depending on the time of year and the professor, this may or may not be possible. Call the admissions office and ask, and they might be able to coordinate something. However, if you’re touring with a large group, then you’ll probably only poke your head into one GE lecture, designed for a group of potential students to see.

One last tip: tour on a rainy day if you can. It sounds weird, but if you can enjoy a campus in the rain or snow, then you know you’ll be able to LOVE it when the weather is beautiful. Happy touring! 

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