What Should You Look for During University Tours?
Taking the opportunity to visit the universities that appeal to you can offer very useful information to help you decide which institute of higher learning is your best fit. To make the most of the visit, prepare a checklist of information you need to gather, places you want to see and questions you want to ask prior to your visit.
Doing this in a systematic way is sure to clarify the items of most concern to you about each campus you tour. The information you receive for each campus can then be compared easily.
You and your parents most likely have some ideas about what to do while on campus, what to look for, and questions to ask. Here are some suggestions to add to your list:
Although you might feel like the information shared during a routine tour is fairly generic, take the time to sign up for the "grand tour" of each university you visit. Contact the admissions office to find when these tours are scheduled and reserve a spot for your and your parents.
During this fairly structured time you will be able to obtain information that can help you make your choice. Use the time to:
- Get a physical sense of the size and accessibility of the campus.
- Locate the department offices and pick up information. Ask questions about prerequisites and other suggestions about how to ready yourself for study.
- Get a start on financial aid forms and see if there is a resource centre for scholarships or work study.
- Note important deadlines for applications and housing and get contact information to follow up later.
- Meet with an admissions officer and ask questions about anything and everything you or your parents want to know.
- Make arrangements to attend a class that interests you.
Be sure you have free time to walk around campus and the surrounding area to get a chance to talk to people who are not part of the tour team. You may receive a more candid idea of what students and staff think about the university.
- If you attended a class, hang around and talk to a student or two and see what they think about the university and the professor. Would they apply to attend this university again now that they are familiar with it? Are the teachers approachable and interesting?
- Drop in on the sports centre, library, and dining hall and talk to students about university life
- Ask students what they do for fun.
- Check out the off-campus area for restaurants, shops, and living accommodations.
- Attend a sporting event or visit with the coaching staff of a sport you might like to pursue.
- Read the student newspaper and listen to campus radio if available.
Once you are home, discuss the tour with your family. If you have further questions, use the contact information you picked up during your visit to follow up. If you are visiting more than one university, be sure to spend some time writing down your impressions of each, including lists of pros and cons, to help you make your ultimate decision.