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Campus Tours 101: 5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Visits

Alyson Campbell February 27, 2024

Campus Visits

With Spring on the horizon, you may be excited to come out of hibernation in order to visit some college campuses. This sounds like a wonderful idea, and one that all of us at Estrela fully endorse! But, we know you are busy, and your time is precious. Your family may have only a few opportunities to physically visit colleges, and you need to find ways to maximize your time. Whether it’s crafting an efficient travel plan that hits relevant schools, or doing your research in order to make the most of a campus visit, we have some tips and suggestions to help you along your “campus crawl!”

Tip 1: Spend your budgeted time on schools that you may actually attend

If there is a region of the country that your family is planning to visit, research colleges in that area that will be a good match for you academically, socially and financially. If you are not a highly competitive student, for example, it may not be a great use of your time to visit colleges with single digit acceptance rates (like the Ivies, MIT, Stanford or Duke). However, with more than 4,000 colleges across the United States, there are plenty of schools to choose from that WILL be a match for you. You should also be sure the colleges you'll be visiting are within your family budget. Spending days on tours at campuses that are outside of your reach financially may just add to your FOMO in the future. If finances are a consideration in your college search, focus on visiting those places that may offer you merit scholarships or need-based aid, if you are eligible. 

Tip 2: Take advantage of virtual tours + opportunities

Thanks in part to the pandemic, many schools have upped their game when it comes to virtual and interactive tours. You can move seamlessly through a campus, do a guided audio tour, and even have a virtual tour guide! Also, many colleges and universities have a number of live Zoom webinars, YouTube channels, or ways to bring an admissions counselor right into your living room. This is a great way to interact and get “face time” with admissions officers and get your preliminary questions answered. Some schools may even really appreciate that “demonstrated interest” - essentially, that you are showing them the love! Here are two resources we recommend you check out: Campus Reel and The College Tour.

Tip 3: Check out summer program opportunities on college campuses 

If you have already identified a few schools that are at the top of your list, there may be a way to get truly immersed. Many colleges offer summer academic programs that allow students to interact with current students, professors, stay in campus housing, eat at the dining halls and more. If you have the time, the means and the genuine interest, this may be a great opportunity to solidify your thoughts on a school or cross it off your list (not to mention gain some GREAT experience for your application activities list and resume!). Check out this great list of pre-college summer programs hosted at campuses around the country.

Tip 4: Sign up NOW for special visit days!

Colleges know to take advantage of days when high school students are off of school, or long weekends where families have the opportunity to travel, to put on some of their best prospective student events! If you have targeted schools you’d like to visit during breaks, long weekends, and random days off: SNAG A SPOT ASAP! These visit days or break slots fill up extremely fast, and if you find out you can’t attend, you can always cancel.

Tip 5: Schedule one-on-one meetings with admission counselors/Faculty where you can

This is usually a case-by-case scenario, but if you have the opportunity to do a face-to-face meeting with an admissions counselor - or faculty or staff member - take it! The general tours and information sessions are extremely helpful but, if you have specific questions that would not pertain to or be appropriate for a larger group, please seek out an opportunity to meet with someone privately. If you have a connection at a particular school (a faculty/staff member or an alum who is still engaged with the campus), you can have them connect you to an admissions representative or faculty member to see if they can meet with you. You can also check out the faculty listings on a college website and reach out via email to any whom you might be interested in connecting with while you're on campus. They might just agree to meet you for coffee or give you an inside tour of some cool labs or spaces on campus. It's worth a shot!

Getting feet on the ground at campuses is a vital part of the college decision process. Make sure you are doing your research, making the most of your time, and asking the right questions. Enjoy the journey!

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Tagged: campus visits, college tours, college visits, campus tours, Alyson Campbell

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