Your college tour study guide

Admission officers from area colleges provide a cheat sheet for upcoming campus visits

© Tyler Olson /

Want to make sure that your child—and you—get the most out of a college visit? Take notes on what these admission staffers from George Mason, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and American University had to say about things to look for and questions to have in mind.

Things students should look for on a tour?

“The most important thing you’re looking for is that feeling of fit. Can I see myself here? Would I be comfortable here? Would I be able to make friends here?”
–Lauren Wagner, GMU

“It’s important to look beyond the big grass lawns and the impressive buildings and see the smaller spaces on campus that you’ll be inhabiting. While walking around, imagine whether you can see yourself studying, relaxing, dining and living in the spaces the tour guide is highlighting.” –Jordan Holmes, American University

What should parents look for?

“Parents can help their students by reminding them of what’s on the must-have list as they tour schools. It’s easy to get bowled over by a beautiful campus full of happy students, but if the school doesn’t have what your student needs to feel supported and engaged, it’s not the right one for them.” –Jeannine Lalonde, UVA

“Parents should sit down and figure out what they are most concerned about with their particular student attending college.” –Traci McCoy, Virginia Tech

“Do keep in mind that this is your student’s college experience and always let them lead the way with where they’re gravitating toward in terms of fit, academics and location.” –Holmes

Best time to visit campus?

“Whether you’re visiting a school close to home or across the country, visiting during that school’s typical weather time will help prepare you for the realities of living there.” –Holmes

“I always recommend going for an Open House visit because colleges and universities are typically able to offer more during those visits.” –McCoy

Additional ways to learn about a campus?

“Your visit should have some extra time built in for wandering after the formal tour.” –Lalonde

“You can look into opportunities to shadow a student, to attend one of their classes and have lunch with them. Often called Day Visits, these experiences help your student get an insider look into what it’s like to be a student for a day.” –Holmes

Pertinent questions to ask?

“How far will I be walking from my residence hall to my classes? Are all of my classes on this campus, or is there a satellite campus that I would need to know about?” –Wagner

“If you get some time with an admission officer, ask questions that go beyond the application instructions.” –Lalonde

(July 2018)

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