Touring a potential university is different, as out-of-state and local students have to pick a college without visiting it. It’s like buying a house for four years without knowing if it is falling apart. Nevertheless, here are twenty intriguing questions to ask on a campus tour, whether it is in-person or virtually. These suggestions come from a current undergrad, who has experience dorming, accommodating to campus life, taking virtual classes, and working both on and off-campus during the school year.
1. Is there anything I should know regarding the residence halls that is different in person than on the computer? When I toured colleges, I needed to find somewhere with comfortable dorms. The residence halls of one campus weren’t renovated for half a century and smelled like mildew. For students taking virtual tours, they would be unaware of this issue. Ask the above question, instead of saying, “Do the buildings smell?” and hope that your tour guide is honest.
2. Are there various extra fees on the bill? If so, what do they mean? No one enjoys expenses, but understand what you are paying. Tour guides may not know these answers, so it is best to ask campus admissions or the Bursar’s Office.
3. What is the university like during the weekends? This question is for potential residents and athletes. Ask your tour guide if most of the population goes home every weekend and if there are sports games, parties, and events. Unfortunately, my college doesn’t have a lot to offer, but they host many shows in their theatre (before Covid).
4. How safe is the campus? What methods are taken to ensure proper security? Is there campus police? How are they trained? Can anyone enter the residence halls unnoticed? Are there security cameras in all the buildings and outside? Does the nearby community have a low crime rate?
5. How is the food? How much variety is there? What accommodations do those with dietary needs receive? Be aware if there are any changes to the kitchen during the weekends.
6. How long does it usually take for students to walk to class? It will help you decide if the university is right for you. For really spread out campuses, ask if what modes of transportation are provided (buses, shuttles, bikes).
7. Is there enough parking for everyone? Your tour guide is going to answer this based on personal experience and public knowledge. While this is more important for commuters, residents might prefer to have their own parking lot that is near the dormitory.
8. Does the university provide shuttles to the train station and stores? When do they run? This question is for students who don’t have a car on campus and need a way to get home or get out. Resident undergrads should know if the shuttles or buses operate seven days a week. Also, ask if you have to pay for each ride.
9. What precautions is the university taking regarding the Coronavirus? How did the pandemic impact the school? Out-of-state students must note that their university will be following different state guidelines than their hometown. When does the campus hope to return to normal (based on the timeline of vaccines)? How will they do so?
10. Are they any nearby places of worship? Where is the nearest church, temple, synagogue, or mosque? Are there any on school grounds, and are there clubs, fundraisers, or events planned around religious holidays or gatherings?
11. What does the school store sell? Is there a location where you can buy merchandise, textbooks, school supplies, writing utensils, electronic equipment, non-perishables, cleaning products, medicines, toiletries, and personal items?
12. Does the university have a double standard when it comes to freedom of speech? Are students silenced if they aren’t politically correct? Have people been treated unequally due to their religion, political stance, physical appearance, disability, sexuality, skin color, or ethnicity?
13. How do online classes operate? How do the tests work? The Coronavirus has established virtual courses, and one should understand how this impacts their learning. Is there a place where students can be secluded during their Zoom classes? What test-taking methods exist?
14. How are admissions responding to students who opted-out of SATs/ACTs? Due to the pandemic, many high schoolers were unable to take these exams. In what way are admissions judging their academic performance without their test scores?
15. How accepting is the university towards transfers and high schoolers who are coming in with credits? If you earned credits after a few years of community college, be 100% sure that your new university will approve of them.
16. What percentage of freshmen return sophomore year? A low number is pretty self-explanatory.
17. What tutoring programs are there? Is there a writing center? You can also ask if the campus provides free printing, computer software, and study space. Are these curriculums included in the tuition?
18. Is there enough electronic devices, appliances, and equipment for sharing residents? Examples include washing machines, dryers, bathrooms, common areas, televisions, computers, printers, kitchen appliances, and exercise equipment. Be sure there is enough for everyone.
19. What does the school do to help students find jobs? Will this university stand-out on a resumé? What internships, work studies, and career aid does the college supply post-graduation? Does the school provide free job placement services?
20. What happens to my financial aid/scholarship if I take longer than four years to graduate? Many universities will take this away if you need an extra semester to earn your degree. Other times, you will be required to play a sport, dorm, or maintain a steady GPA.