Touring Colleges Without Being Pandered To

By Madelaine

 I found as I was touring colleges when I was a senior in highschool that I absolutely hated it. College tour guides were like car salesman, all having an agenda, all pretending they were different than everyone else. 

I have a secret, all college libraries, dorms, and eateries are the same. Some may look nicer than others, but you’ll be tired of the food after the first semester, no matter what. All the libraries have the same books and you’ll mostly use it to do work in quietly. All dorms are too small and the shared bathroom will have all but one clogged shower within the second week. 

Still make sure you like the aesthetic feel of the campus, but as not to feel overwhelmed by the chipper tour guide at your perspective college make sure you go in with an open mind. 

Narrow your choices

I know it can be tempting to go off and tour as many colleges as possible. Doing this, though, will only make choosing a college feel more tiring. Until you know what you wish to slightly study, choosing a college can be like a popularity contest. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind later or have to fully decide, but if you know you’re interested in business, or english, or anthropology then look at colleges with programs specifically tailored to your interests. Knowing your interests and exactly which handful of colleges you’re applying to can help make the final decision feel less daunting and vast. 

Don’t waste your time

Each college will want to keep you on campus as long as possible to increase their chances of keeping you. They will try to sell you to stay overnight or going to a class. Unless you feel that you are very interested in the subject, there is no need to go to a class, and trust me when I say all dorms are the same and unless you really want to sleep on the floor of a dorm room you don’t need to stay overnight. One thing that is never a waste of time though is to meet with a department head. If you have a subject that you may wish to study I suggest meeting with them. They tend to have more information about the campus and will talk straighter to you than a college tour guide. You can even ask them about the other colleges you’re looking at for they may know them especially if they’re all known for the same field of study or near one another.

Red flags

There can be some red flags when talking with those trying to sell you a college. One is asking the simple question of “do many people leave campus during the weekends?” Especially if you’re coming from out of state, or don’t wish to go home every weekend, then it can be very nice to have things to do and people to do them with. If they can’t list activities, programs, or talk about orgs then there might not be too many chances for you to raise up your resume through student orgs, or have a campus community outside of classes. Another red flag is when you’re meeting with an academic head or professor and they say that their program is still growing and spin it as you can shape and grow the program with them. This may sound exciting, but it won’t be for long. Not having a clear path or the foundation already put in place a “growing” major can mean that you’ll be left figuring out your career path and advising yourself. In the long run it’ll be more stress and leg work than starting with a college where the foundations is still shaping. 

Deciding whether you want a large or small campus, or what major you want can be tricky. Sometimes it’s all just about your gut feeling. Know though that you can always change colleges if you don’t like it. It’s not a failure to choose wrong. Just don’t overwhelm yourself with choices or having people tell you you need to be quick about your decisions or need to visit as many colleges are possible. 

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