College tours 101: getting the feel for your future

By Viktoria Anderson, Staff–

As school resumes and seniors work to perfect college applications and plan their futures, many travel to their “dream” colleges to find their ideal fit.

Deciding which colleges and universities to visit and what questions to ask is not always the simplest of tasks. Nevertheless, attending college tours is crucial for helping students make an ideal choice for a major life decision.

According to US News & World Report, “before choosing the best college to attend, it is important for students to test the waters. Making a college visit and touring the campus can be pivotal in a student’s decision to apply to school.”

Julie Clayton, Career Center coordinator at Davis High, believes firmly in getting a sense of the scenery and surroundings in various potential colleges.

“On paper, colleges look pretty much the same, but when visiting, you get a totally different feel for the school,” Clayton said. “Visits allow students to decide if they like the atmosphere and can imagine themselves going there.”

And if students cannot make the physical trips necessary to see an array of schools in person, “they should go to the college’s website and find a virtual tour, video or slideshow,” Clayton said.

DHS alumna Olivia Wynkoop, who now attends San Francisco State University, also believes in the importance of visiting a wide range of schools to influence making the right decision.

“I think high-school students should visit any college they’re curious about,” Wynkoop said. “Being familiar with the campus makes moving away from home a much easier transition.”

College visits are necessary to narrow down the list of potential colleges but research ahead of time will make the tours more beneficial.

Elodia Alvarez, the Academic Center coordinator at DHS, believes in researching the different types of schools such as those with a smaller population vs. a bigger population, private vs. public, or city vs. suburb to ensure the student’s final decision is best fit to their own needs.

Alvarez stresses the importance of personalizing college research to the goals and passions of the student during the application process as well as during the decision making.

“You do not want to go on a college tour of a school that does not have the major you are planning on going into,” Alvarez said.

Wynkoop also believes that students should focus their time and questions around their interests and major.

“If possible, I think it’s a good idea to check out your major’s department and even ask advice from possibly future professors,” Wynkoop said.

Both Clayton and Alvarez describe often important questions that students often don’t think to ask while visiting colleges. They both emphasize focusing on minor details to help students decide where they feel most “at home” for the next four years.

“Try and ask more in-depth questions than what you can easily find on the internet,” Clayton said. “Some questions to ask are what does it take to graduate in four years? What is your average financial aid package? How many students at the college get internships?”

Alvarez describes questions to ask students already attending the college in addition to those more formal for admissions representatives.

“Ask what is the nearest town? How is the wifi? Where do you spend most of your time? Are there any good food places?” Alvarez said.

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