College Tour

14 December 2022

High school juniors and some seniors are excited about scheduling tours of potential college and university campuses.  As a parent, you need to focus on the realities of the school and ask the boring, but essential, questions in order to make the best decision possible.  Here are some things to mull over.

General

  • Walk all over the campus. Yes, it will be tiring but you can see if the grounds are kept tidy and whether there is trash where there shouldn’t be.
  • Find out about the internet connections and where the dead zones might be.
  • Take lots of photos and keep them in a folder for each campus that you visit. Take notes as well so that you won’t forget details.

Classrooms

  • Are the classrooms comfortable including hearing and seeing the instructor and any visual aids?
  • Are there sufficient electrical outlets to handle the entire room of laptops?
  • If possible, sit in on a class or two to experience the situation first hand.

Dorms

  • Check with the school because some require Freshmen to stay in the dorms and others don’t. If your child will be residing on campus, find out what is and isn’t permitted like thumbtacks in the wall, hot plates, slow cookers, fridges, etc.
  • Similarly if you are considering off-campus housing, compare prices. Find out what it will take to get from your apartment to the buildings including parking or public transportation.
  • Look carefully for signs of mold or water damage. This is more prevalent in older buildings, but can happen anywhere.
  • Talk to the current students who live there to see if the heating and cooling is sufficient.

Cafeteria

  • If the school offers a food plan, be sure you know what is covered, including the student center, food courts, or other facilities.
  • If there are serious food allergies or a particularly picky eater, find out what options are available.

Organizations

  • Not everyone is interested in fraternities or sororities, or they may sound great in the movies but the realities can be quite different.
  • While a great part of college is making new friends and new experiences, the central focus should be on education and as a parent, you will need to be the ogre in this fairy tale.
  • Some groups have strict requirements about GPAs, so be sure you know upfront what is expected.

Exercise Facilities

  • Know what the recreational centers hold, including tennis courts, swimming pools, weight rooms, etc.
  • Find out the hours they are available and whether you can use them if you are not on a college competitive team.

Ancillary Resources

  • Know the quality of any medical care available.
  • Educational or emotional counseling centers are available at some schools, but may not be provided at smaller institutions.
  • Visit the career services department. They should keep data on how many graduates have jobs in their major or industry.
  • Tutoring services should be something to consider. Even the smartest student may need some help.

Nearby Communities

  • Weekend outings to nearby cities can be a relief from the campus life. It can also provide a place to shop or find a part-time job.

Student tour guides may not be thoroughly trained to ask some of your questions.  So, you need to see some of these things for yourself as well as locate some administrative folks who can give you answers.

Read the university newspapers.  They will hightlight events, offer photos of parties, and may present issues that would otherwise go unmentioned.

If the administrative group seems reluctant to share any of the information you feel you need to make a good decision, this school may not be the best choice for your child.

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