How to Pick the Best University for You: Campus Tours

Every person I’ve spoken to about university has stressed to me the necessity of visiting each campus before committing to a school. The university you choose will be the place you are going to spend at least the next four years, so it’s important to love the place you’re going to. I have visited a few campuses now, and after attending each, my impression of each school has changed drastically. Some schools I previously would have never considered are now on my list. Schools that I once thought would be perfect for me, I’m now less interested in. From attending university tours, I’ve gained information I would have never acquired without seeing them in person. Here’s an overview of the importance of university tours and how they can help you find the school that best suits your interests.

First, you must determine which schools have the best opportunities within your program and that will provide you with the strongest academics for your skill level. You can find this information on where it shows the grade range, prerequisites, and any other information you may need to know for your program and school. 

After this, you’ll want to inquire about tours or talk to your parents about planning a trip. If you can’t view the campus in person, then you can try to find online tours which many universities have provided on their websites. You’re going to want to prepare any questions you may have regarding that school in advance.

Being able to see your future school in person allows you to understand the lifestyle of the student body and how you will fit in on campus. During tours, you not only get a feel for the school, but also for the town you’ll be living in. You get an opportunity to see the nightlife, food, tourist attractions, and much more. During the tour, you can determine what is most important to you. Do you want to be at a school that is solely academically driven or would you like a school that has a lively student body? Would you like to be in the city or more remote? Do you want to commute or be in residence? These are all questions that you must decide on and will help you narrow down your choices.  

After figuring out your values, it is important to prepare a list of questions for your tour leader to answer. If you plan on staying in residence, ask about the people and lifestyle in each dorm. Consider the meal plan quality and how this suits your lifestyle. Make sure to look at how the campus is laid out and how you will get to each of your classes. Look at the school map and see if the campus is compact or spread out. 

Here are some examples of specific questions I like to prepare when going on a tour: 

On average how many people will be with you in a lecture room?  

Is it possible to do a year abroad or a co-op?  

Are the professors approachable and responsive?  

Are there quiet study places around campus?  

Do you offer tutoring?  

What is your university known for?  

What is one positive and negative thing about this university?  

Are there opportunities for on-campus employment?  

Do your professors have office hours?  

What does a typical day look like for a student at this school?  

Are the facilities in good condition?

Other general things to consider:  

  • Academics
  • Location/ weather 
  • Student life
  • Tuition
  • Campus facilities/ amenities
  • Clubs, events, gym membership, fitness classes, volunteer, co-op, etc
  • Residence & food 
  • Distance from home 
  • Commute around campus
  • Scholarships 
  • How this university program will help you achieve future career success

Once you’ve considered each point, prioritize them in an order that matters most to you. After your tours, you will have a better idea of which schools align most with your personal needs. Out of all things to consider, your university should feel like home. 

Seeing your prospective schools in person can make such a huge difference in your decision. You are able to gain so much more information that will help you figure out where you will fit best. Not only will it make you better prepared, but it may also get you excited about what’s to come! So inquire about tours and plan some trips before May 1st so you can have every tool you need to make your decision.