Choosing which college to attend is a life-changing decision. Teens and their parents often take time exploring their options, reading about potential colleges, and attending college information nights. The college tour, however, is often the deciding factor for both teens and their parents. In order to get the most from your college tour, you need to know the right questions to ask.
1. Why did the tour guide choose to attend this particular school?
This is a great opening question to ask at the beginning of the tour. First, it gives you an idea as to what type of student is guiding you through your tour. If the guide’s answer focuses on class size or program availability, you can assume that they are a serious student who can provide you with a lot of information about the educational aspects of college. If their answer includes sports teams, social life, or extracurricular activities, you can be sure that the guide will know about the ins and outs of life on campus. Either way, the answer will give you some insight as to the best qualities of the college.
2. How do students choose their classes? Are there any classes that fill up fast?
Students, particularly freshmen, often choose their classes with the assistance of a faculty advisor. In some instances, a peer advisor, rather than a faculty advisor, helps with this process. Asking about the class selection process is a great way to learn about the administrative aspects of the school. It can also give parents and their teens an idea of which majors, classes, and professors are the most popular on campus and why.
3. What are the most important campus traditions?
Choosing a college is choosing a home away from home. College campuses become one large community filled with important traditions and activities. Learning about these traditions on the tour will give you an idea of which values are important to the college staff, as well as its students. It can also give new students and their parents some information about how students around campus fill their free time. On some campuses, the college world revolves around basketball season. In others, it revolves around the spring drama club production. The types of traditions that are important give you an idea of what is important on campus.
4. Where do students live? On campus in dorms? In sororities or frats? Off campus in apartments?
Housing is one of the most important considerations when choosing a college. Your college tour will likely include a stop in a campus dorm room, as well as a tour of the common areas of the dormitory building. Asking about the percentage of students that live on campus versus those who live off campus will give you an impression of the college community. Additionally, on some campuses students join sororities and fraternities in order to escape life in the dorms. If there is a big emphasis on sororities and frats, be sure to ask why.
5. What opportunities exist off of campus?
The answer to this question can be broad, so phrase it toward those aspects of college that interest you. For students that have a desire to study abroad, asking about opportunities to do so is important. Other students will be interested in learning about local internship and employment opportunities, and what companies are most likely to hire graduates after college. Ask the questions that will be most relevant to your student, and be prepared by taking a list of questions with you when you go to the tour. Consider taking notes and comparing the answers you get from the various colleges you tour.