Know reasons for college tour

What it is all about 

As it is a big step for each student to go away from home to study, so it is also a big issue for parents to know where their beloved baby is going to stay for the next years. To ensure it is a proper and well enough place to meet the parents' needs, it is essential to go for college tours.

 As a parent, you might think it is the perfect college for your small one, but try to see the college and the tour with his or her eyes. You are not 16 or maybe 18 years old. For them walking through an old building with the smell of learning and studying can be awkward. The scent can remind them of books and older people – the teachers and lecturers. 

You may not see a college with young eyes, so, likely, you do not understand that he or she does not like something that you find significant. Or you might even don't know why he or she fell in love with a particular college. But to make sure you fulfil your duties as a good parent, you should ensure to take him on proper tours through every possible college. These tours are not just full of needed information, and they can also be fun – I guess.

All the parents want their children to visit and graduate at the best college available. With the best lecturers, the best courses, the best rooms and of course the best influence. So do you! To ensure your student is as pleased with the college as you are, you want to show him around with the best college tour anyone has ever seen. 

If you want to make it all perfect, it’ll just go wrong. That is a promise. But don’t worry, here are some tips to improve. That will make the trip valuable for both of you!

  1. No perfection Give up your perfection. Imperfection is the better way to convince a student to feel comfortable somewhere. Perfection scares most of the people.
  2. It is not yours Don’t forget that you already have been to college. It is not you who has to walk around, hear lectures, search for your books in the library or find new friends, roommates or activities around. 
  3. You are old All you are going to see on that tour will be seen through eyes that have a lot more experience in any way, and any situation life is providing. What you like is most of the time not what your 16 to maybe 18 y/o student is going to love as well. Of course, this also works the other way round.
  4. Don’t be the leader Don’t be the parent asking questions all over. This time it is all about your child. If there is anything, you are super eager to know, so that you won’t sleep without this information – be an adult and send a mail afterwards. Just ensure you take a notepad with you to write these questions down.
  5. Finally: Opinion sharing Ask your child first what impression the college made. What thoughts did up come on its mind about everything seen and shown? This information will lead to better conversations about all the pros and cons of the college. 

Reasons to go on a tour

Have you ever ordered a pizza because you liked the image on the menu? Have you ever bought a McChicken because it looks so delicious? Did the food look like its advertisement? To ensure this is not happening with your student and the college, you should go on a tour and see how it fits. The pictures can promise you a warm feeling, but it is better to feel it yourself while you are on the campus. Spend half of a day there: Try to get into the campus flow and feel it.

While you are on campus, you will not only experience whether your child is going to get what the website offers, you can also see how wide and big the school is. Your child will get to know how far it is from the rooms and houses to the college itself. Most of the students want to graduate in a college bigger than their highschool. Maybe this makes them feel a little bigger themselves – perhaps this suggests an influence.

Last, but definitely not least: Talk to the locals. Try to find students who are willing to talk to you about their experiences with this college. They probably will let you know about their personal highlights. Of course, this will not only include the best lectures and the best teachers. This will also include the food in the cafeteria, the best coffee shops around, the best sports activity and maybe even the best clubs for going out on the weekends.

Choose the right criteria

Whenever you are searching online to find the perfect college for your child, you will quickly find out that you can’t just look for every college. It is like looking for a restaurant without specific criteria what kind of food you want to have. It is the same for schools! What type of college do you want to choose?

It is a long list of different criteria – and these are just the common ones. For your personal search, you definitely need to figure out, which of these criteria mentioned above (or maybe even something added to that list) is the most important to you. And the second most important, and the third...

When you search for your perfect college – don’t worry: there will be more than one matching. There are more than 3,000 schools in the USA. A lot of them will offer what you are looking for. For the further process, it is necessary to break down the list of possible colleges to a file you could visit. For this, you should narrow down the number of criteria; otherwise, it will be a hell of a search. Let’s stick with five to six!

Checklist for your college tour

Before you can start and drive to the college, you should first plan the trip further. 

□ Get your guide

Before you can go somewhere, you should make an appointment with someone who knows a lot about the  school. Usually, colleges offer guided tours by admission  staff members. On this tour, you can see all the places that are necessary for you and your student to know,  as well as this offers you – as a parent – a chance to ask about financial and application processes.

□ Do personal interviews

Whenever you want to know more about a place or a lecture, it is a good idea to talk to people who already are involved. It can help to speak to the admissions  representative and other students to get an idea of how living and studying on the campus feels like. To ensure that you can get every information you need, we recommend scheduling a few of these interviews before you go to the college itself.

Of course, interviewing current students cannot be scheduled before you are already there. So try to get hold of some students while you are on campus.

□ Go online to do a virtual tour first

Nowadays colleges offer you a tour online to get a first impression of the buildings themselves and also of their surroundings. You can do such an online tour while you are still at home to set your own highlight for your real tour.

For these tours, you can visit sites like CampusTours or similar. Added to the tours, you will also find campus maps if the college itself did not provide them.

□ What places to see

  • While making the decision where to go to, you should also consider the subject your student wants to major in. With English or Literature they must have a good library and writing centre. With physics, biology or chemistry, a good and well-sorted lab is the only way to get good results. Make sure you check these places out!
  • Try to attend an ongoing class. It will help both of you - you and your student – to get to know the philosophy of the college: how are the lectures structured and how is the engagement of other students.

  • Highly important for good college results is also proper nutrition.

»Plenus venter non studet libenter« - A full stomach doesn’t like to study, but any empty one won’t even let you. Make sure that you will be able to have a meal in the dining hall of the campus. While you are waiting for your food or sitting on someone’s table, please take advantage of them and ask other students about their opinion regarding the campus, the lectures and the college in general. Try to observe them a little while they eat. How is the spirit? Loners or communicative people? Will that suit your child?

  • Does your student have any learning disabilities?! Yes? – Then step by the Disabilities Services Office. Talk to the responsible people and see whether your kid gets along with them. In the end, it is not yours to decide whether your student can feel comfortable even though it has difficulties.
  • How does the Career centre look like? Does it make the impression they care about their students’ future lives? Try to get hold of someone to talk to. What idea do they and the way they talk give you? If it is a good one, take brochures and flyers home with you. 
  • If you already know what subject your student is interested in, find a professor who is lecturing this. If you are lucky, you might be able to talk to him or her. This offers a chance that your student can get an idea of how it is to study that specific major. It also offers a possibility to already experience whether this professor is encouraged while talking or whether it is going to be boring.
  • Last but not least: try to visit the coach’s office if your student is interested in sports.

□ Drive around – community matter

It is not only necessary to see the campus. A student’s life exists even outside the walls of the buildings and outside the campus. While walking or driving around, you can stop at cool and fancy coffee shops to have a seat as well. Try out a local restaurant. Make sure your student will feel comfortable – and most importantly: Ensure this is a safe neighbourhood! 

What you should ask while you are on campus...

How to take the most of the trip home

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Take pictures

As far as it is allowed, picture your trip, so that you can reconsider the place while sitting at your kitchen table. Pictures not only show you where you have been, but they also offer you the possibility to feel what you felt at that time. They help you imagining again how the school was impressing you – or maybe also disappointing you. Memories are more often just what we want them to be. Pictures, on the other hand, don’t lie.

Make notes

Whenever you visit a place or talk to any person around, try to make small notes with the most important facts – and most importantly with whom you were talking. This helps you and your student to remember details.

Evaluate the college

To make a decision, most of the times, people find it very helpful to talk and discuss things with friends and family. Try to evaluate the college together with your student. Make sure that everyone has enough time to explain their arguments – their pros and cons. This will help you to see things out of your student’s eyes and to make the right decision. For the evaluation, you will find a form at the end of this guide which you can use.

All the three points mentioned above will be helpful in case the application includes a section where it has to be explained why your student wants to attend that school.

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