Explore a US campus without a college tour guide!

Visiting a college campus in-person can be difficult, especially if you have to cross half of the country (or even an ocean!) to do it.

Get the most out of your visit by not only taking the guided campus tour offered by the university, but also by scheduling time to tour the college on your own. Not everything can be explained in an hour-long guided college tour. Some things you just have to see for yourself!

Where to Go on Your College Tour

Put away the campus map, strap on a backpack and pretend you’re already a student there. Visit a few classroom buildings that weren’t on the official college tour. If the college has a shuttle service, take a ride. The student union might have some options for lunch, or eat in the college cafeteria.

Don’t just limit your explorations to campus. Visit the shops, grocery stores and parks within walking distance. Find a coffee shop, grab a seat by the window and take a good look around.

What to Look for on Your College Tour

The guided college tour will show you the best the college has to offer. When you explore the campus on your own, investigate those areas the college chose not to show.

  • Look closely at the buildings and grounds. Are they well-maintained? Are the buildings clean, inside and out? Is the grass mowed?
  • Browse the library stacks. Are the books up-to-date? Is the library deserted or filled with students?
  • Visit the campus gym. Is the equipment in good condition? What are the hours?
  • Be safe on campus. Do lights line the streets? Are there emergency call-boxes? Do you see campus police vehicles or officers on foot?
  • Pay attention to the college students and campus diversity. Are students nice? Do they seem rushed? Can you imagine becoming friends with them?
  • If you are an international student, stop by the college’s office for international student services. Is the staff helpful? What services does the office offer?

Try to plan your college tour during the academic year, preferably on a weekday. Fewer students will be around during the weekends and summer, and some of the campus buildings may be closed. A college tour when classes are in session will give you a more accurate picture of campus life.

Keep a map of the campus in your backpack, but use it only in an emergency. Instead, learn a few of the college landmarks by sight. Acting like a student when you tour the college campus is the best way to decide if you actually want to become one!

Keep a map of the campus in your backpack, but use it only in an emergency. Instead, learn a few of the college landmarks by sight. Acting like a student when you tour the college campus is the best way to decide if you actually want to become one!