Here it is. The day of the tour. You and your family have probably come from far away, or maybe not too far, but far enough to make it an event. Your stomach is a little tight, you’re a little nervous. Maybe you’re like me and couldn’t eat a lot this morning. It’s such an exciting day! You get to see the campus today! While this is exciting, it’s hard to be able to picture anywhere becoming home for the next four years. It’s hard to know what to look for. If you’re like me, you’re more concerned about the people you’ll be living with than the classes. You’re probably more concerned with the types of people you’ll encounter, and ponder the ever present question: will I fit in? While cliché, it is nonetheless a true question, and a daunting one. How can you make the most of your college visit and know whether or not you’ll fit it? Here are some things to consider.
Watch your tour guide. Do they say hello to people your tour group passes on the way? Do they forget some facts about the school that even you know from your brochure? Did they mention professors by name, and recommend them? Did they mention school events that make people feel at home?
These are a handful of things I always keep in mind when I give a tour, and I remember thinking when I went on tours. I always wanted to hang out with the tour guides after their job was done. I enjoyed watching them with their friends, or seeing them chat with Admissions on their way out. Being able to see them interact with the staff and other students on and off the job always made me think that the campus I was visiting was a welcoming one. Watching people “off the job” was a great clue for me into the type of community into which I was entering.
Another thing to do is to think of general questions to ask the tour guide. It’s always good to tell if they can think on the spot. It also helps if you can tell if they’re going off their script and letting you into their lives. When they are answering your questions, as a tour guide, they are mixing professional opinion with their own, as I have done, which creates a wonderful insight into life on campus.
Ask questions about the first week of school. What is typically going on? What events are offered? What can be seen here during the first week? Often the first week sets the stage for the whole year, full of energy and excitement, especially at Grove City. What do the Resident Assistants, or RA’s, do on campus? How involved are they? Learn about the community you will live in, not just the one in which you will study.
With regard to classes, ask about some general things, such as if the science labs are taught by teachers’ assistants, or TA’s, or if they are instructed by the professors. If you are interested in education, find out how early you can get field experience. Ask about any services the school provides for the students’ careers, such as internship opportunities. While these may seem too specific, it will give you an idea about the amount of effort the school puts into the success of its students.
Once you become a student, all the questions you may have had at one point while visiting college will be answered. Everything that once seemed so daunting about a tour will be resolved. Every student you see seems so comfortable, and it’s hard to imagine that you could ever find a place that feels like home. Believe me though, I felt the same way, and home is just a few friends and a class away.
Taking a college tour could be your first, middle, or last step in your application process. Depending on what you think of that tour, it could be your decision maker. Having questions and the right mindset can really help make the right choices about college. Pay attention to the way students greet each other, what your tour guide knows about various events, and whether or not they know the professors. This is college life, and one day you’ll be living it. Make sure you like the life you choose.
Hi, I’m Aly! I am a sophomore English Secondary Education major with certification in Communications and English. I love everything outdoors and hope to go abroad and teach. I hope I get to one day travel the world with a couple of dogs and my Chacos.