After high school, the next chapter in life starts with college. For anyone, looking for the perfect place seems daunting. It is your first big choice in life. Where you choose to go will determine your education, your social life, and your future. Pressure can mount, even at the junior level, about the overwhelming number of choices for college that extend from the Ivy Leagues in the East to the nationally rated universities in California.
The best way to get a feel for a college is, of course, visiting it. Touring a campus can help you learn more about what it offers in a more personalized way than a brochure can do. It can also let you see past the pretty pamphlets and scripted presentations into how the college works. They can help you envision how you would live there for four years.
This past week, I had the chance to travel to the cold and mountainous Colorado. While I was there, I visited the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, and the University of Denver. I took a full college tour with the first two, and a self-guided tour in Denver.
It is good to know that the best day to visit a college is during a weekday. You can see how students get around campus, how a normal class looks, and how busy campus life can get. Usually, these campus tours start with a presentation in their welcome center where they give you a basic overview of their institution.
It really helps to take notes on the good and bad points of the college during the tour presentation. In the barrage of information the tour leaders throw at you, it won’t be hard to forget something important.
Talk to the student ambassadors who lead tours around the campus. These tours are probably the most important part of the program. It gives you a chance to talk one on one with a student attending that college. Walk near your guide in front of the twenty other people taking the same tour. Engage them in conversation as they lead the tour throughout the campus. Your guide will most likely tell you interesting facts about a building you walk by or about a specific class that is worth taking. They are there because they want to help you and share their love for the college, so let them.
Check out student life on campus to see if that college is a good fit for you. Even if you are taking a self-guided tour, you should look around the campus and talk to other students. Start up a conversation with students who look friendly and open to discussion. Ask what they would change about the college. Look into a classroom to see how big they are. Read a bulletin board to see all of the activities you could potentially join. Eat some of the food in the dining hall. .
One of the most important things you should look at, though, is the city or town near the campus. Campus life is definitely an important part of choosing a college, but in reality, you will most likely be wanting to spend time in the surrounding area. If you want to eat at a nice restaurant, catch a good concert, or hike in the mountains, you need to look out for those options.
College is an exciting part of someone’s life. Enjoy your college visits. But remember in the back of your mind that it could be your future life.