Campus tours are an important aspect of the college planning process, but some students may not have the financial resources needed to make the trip to campuses outside of their immediate area. Even if their families can afford to pay for travel expenses, lodging and meals, it still may be quite difficult to find the time to get away. Fortunately, the Internet provides a gateway for students to effectively explore potential colleges. In fact, many colleges now provide virtual tours for those who cannot make the trip in person, as well as live chat opportunities with admission counselors and campus representatives. Students can also find information on available academic programs and majors online, as well as the admission requirements for incoming students, but these facts and figures won’t give students the information they truly need to know if a college will be right for them. Instead, students should delve deeper into each college’s website and consider checking out some of the following areas and interests.
Students will be spending considerable time in their dorm rooms, so it’s important to find out what is available to incoming students. Most college websites will include photos of the dormitories, as well as floor plans and restrictions. Some colleges also post pictures of their residences on Pinterest, so students may want to take a quick peek to get a better idea of what a room will look and feel like when it is fully furnished. Students should pay close attention to the amenities offered, as well as which dorms are available to incoming freshmen.
Although pictures rarely depict what the food actually looks like, the dining services page on a college’s website can provide a lot of useful information. Students with food allergies or special dietary needs will be able to explore their options for on-campus dining, as well as reviewing the various meal plans offered. Some colleges may offer extensive menu selections and a variety of venues across their campuses, but others may not.
Students can expect to spend a good portion of their time going to class or working on assignments, but eventually they will need a break. Most campuses offer an aquatic center (pool), gymnasium and intramural sports to help students unwind, but some go well beyond. Students may be surprised to learn that some campuses offer students access to skate parks, eco-adventures, group fitness classes (Zumba, kickboxing, yoga, etc.), equestrian centers and more! Students who like to run/jog should be sure to look into available trails and paths on the campuses, as well.
Most college websites include an events calendar. Students can often gauge how active their potential campus is by checking out the daily or monthly offerings through this portal. The calendars will often include club/group meetings, sporting events, programs offered through various college departments and larger events, such as concerts or parties.
Many colleges host an online version of their printed paper, so students can sift through several copies to get a good feel for the vibe on campus. Most papers highlight sporting events, campus activities, such as fundraisers or Greek Rush Week, student opinions and even provide information on recent criminal activity. The online papers often include candid pictures of students and video clips from events, which may differ significantly from those featured on the college brochures or admission videos.
The Student Affairs page of most college websites will often list the available student clubs and organizations on campus. Students may want to visit the websites and Facebook pages for some of the groups they may be interested in joining, as these portals will give them a good idea of how active the groups are on campus and allow them to connect with current students, as well.
Students may want to keep a notepad handy to jot down any questions they may have while touring a college’s website. If they cannot locate answers to their questions online, students should follow up with the admissions or the appropriate campus office to learn more. Students should also take the time to visit the social media forums associated with the college, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as these will also provide an unfiltered view of the campus and its student body. Although a first-hand campus tour is often the best way for students to get to know a campus, an online tour can also provide them with enough information to make an informed decision on whether they should apply for admission or take the college off their list of potential schools.
Please Note: The WiseChoice website will be discontinued later this month. Before the site becomes unavailable, we
encourage you to download & save any stored documents you may want to keep from your account. Email us if you have questions.