10 Places to Check Out on Your Campus Tour

Official campus tours are terrific—but they shouldn’t be your only source of information about what life is like on a college campus. Remember, the tour is designed to make the school look as positive as possible. To find out if a college is a good fit for you, and to get a good feel for what everyday life is really like for students, here are ten places to check out on campus.

  1. Classrooms– in session. Sit in on at least one class while you’re on campus. Professors usually don’t mind as long as you ask. Try sitting in on both a bigger class and a smaller one.
  2. Dorms. See if you can get into a dorm and walk around. This is a great way to see where students live– and to ask them questions about what they think of the dorms and the school in general.
  3. The dining hall. See what the food is like, and what the atmosphere is like in a place where students spend oodles of time. If you can, chat with some of the students. Some smaller colleges arrange for a “lunch with students” part of the official tour.
  4. The bulletin boards. You can get a good feel for the politics of a campus– and the involvement level of students–be seeing what’s posted on public bulletin boards.
  5. The advising office. Great advising is very important, especially if you’re on a larger campus where students can feel like numbers. Make an appointment with an academic advisor and discuss what services are available to students. Find out what a typical advising appointment is like.
  6. The student center. What’s going on there? Is it pretty quiet? Are there lots of activities and student interactions going on? You can often get a good feel for the college community by checking out this space.
  7. The lawns, and other common areas. Are students lounging around, chatting and doing their homework? Or does everyone go home or to their dorms after class? This is another good way to gauge community.
  8. The library. Wander in and find out what services are available. If the library doesn’t have a big collection, find out how interlibrary loan works.
  9. Parties. If you’re there on the weekend and staying with a friend, by all means go to a party of two. This is more than just fun—it’s a great way to see an important part of campus life.
  10. The town. Don’t forget to spend some time checking out the area around campus as well.