A college tour is a series of campus visits to a number of colleges or universities (two or four year) by a prospective student (freshman, transfer, or graduate.) College tours may be taken individually or by school groups and educational programs as a way for a large number of people to visit several schools over a short period of time. In addition, many colleges now offer virtual tours on the Internet.
A college tour is composed of multiple, distinct campus visits. In most cases a campus visit involves an information session directed by an admissions officer and a walking tour of campus conducted by a student ambassador. A campus visit can be taken by individual students and their families, with the student and parents often joining other individuals to create a larger group. Many colleges offer “open houses” usually consisting of a day or series of days set aside for students and their families to visit a particular school. Often there will be special programs or presentations during these times which would not be available during a regular visit. Most colleges and universities also offer private tours and information sessions for large groups from a single school or educational program.
Counselors and admissions officers often urge students to visit colleges before applying. Students often use their observations from college visits to make a final selection.
College tours are usually planned 2 to 4 weeks in advance and more for larger schools.. Students are encouraged to plan their visit during the school year when classes are in session to get a true sense campus life. A family campus visit can be arranged by calling the school's visitor center or admissions office. Many colleges allow students to register for their college tour on the campus website. Group campus tours are planned by high school counselors, parent-teacher associations, and educational programs such as Boys and Girls Club of America or Upward Bound. Tour operators also offer paid services to plan and arrange college tours for groups in addition to transportation, lodging and activities.
An admissions information session provides prospective students with knowledge about the college they are applying to. These sessions usually last thirty minutes to an hour and include information about admissions requirements, financial aid, and academic requirements for acceptance to that particular institution.
The walking campus tour allows students to see the campus including academic buildings, residence halls, dining halls, athletic fields, and other areas. Some tours offer students a glimpse into a dorm or classroom but this varies from campus to campus. Walking tours are usually conducted by a current student ambassador who, in addition to pointing out campus highlights, answers student questions.
Sample campus visit
|9:00 – 9:15 am||Arrive on campus|
|9:15 – 10:00 am||Orientation given by the college admissions office, including:
Welcome and campus introduction
|10:00 – 11:00am||Campus walk, guided by a campus ambassador, including:
Classroom buildings / lecture halls
Gymnasium / field / stadium
Student union / cafeteria / bookstore
|11:00 – 12:00pm||Individual exploration of campus:
Talk with students
Visit a dorm
Shop at bookstore
Talk to professors / coaches / recruiters
Eat at cafeteria
- Spencer, Janet, and Sandra Maleson; “The Ten Step Plan for Successful College Visits” Introduction; Visiting College Campuses 7th ed.; Random House; New York, NY; 2004; ISBN 0-375-76400-3, page xvii
- “Admissions: Open House”, North Carolina State University. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Western Carolina University – Open House”, Western Carolina University Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Campus Visit Options”, Texas A&M University. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Large Group visits, Visiting Freshmen”, Northwestern University, Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Choosing a College: The Importance of the Campus Tour”, CliffsNotes. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- Sova, Dawn B.; “The College Visit: An Overview” Introduction; Guide to College Visits 3rd ed.; Peterson’s; Lawrenceville, NJ; 2001; ISBN 0-7689-0653-9, page 10
- Schneider, Zola Dincin. Campus Visits & College Interviews 2nd ed. The College Board; New York, NY; 2002; ISBN 0-87447-675-5, page 9
- Kramon, Cliff and Sami Kramon, “Maximizing the College Tour”, CollegeToolkit.com. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Visit Options” The George Washington University. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Campus Visits”, Texas A&M University. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Student Ambassador Program at SUNY Plattsburgh”, State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Retrieved on 10-28-2009
- “Student Ambassadors” Florida State College at Jacksonville. Retrieved on 10-28-2009