As high school students search for the perfect college, campus tours give them a great understanding of the university, it’s academics, and the campus culture. However, many students may not know what to look for on their campus tour and how important these things are; I know I certainly didn’t. It wasn’t until I was actually on campus that I began to notice (or the lack thereof) of these essentials. This post puts together 10 essentials that every student should look for while on their college campus tour.
1. An On-Campus Medical Center
When on a campus tour, the #1 essential you should look for is an on-campus medical center. This can come extremely handy in case you come down with a cold or the flu during the semester (like I did) or don’t have a car to drive to a local doctor’s office (ditto).
So if the campus does have an on-campus medical center, here are some questions to ask:
- How much does it cost?
- At some colleges, it’s free! At others, you may have to pay an additional fee.
- What can they treat?
- Can they prescribe prescriptions?
- What are their hours?
- Is there someone available on-call when they’re closed?
Personally, I was extremely lucky that my campus had a medical center that I could go to for free, and could even prescribe me prescriptions. Because I didn’t have a car to get to a doctor’s office and lived almost 4 hours away from home, I couldn’t imagine what I would have done without my campus’ medical center.
2. Emergency Call Boxes
Emergency call boxes come in many shapes and sizes, but they all have the same purpose: a quick way to get in contact with on-campus security or police; this is done with the simple press of a button and is perfect in case you’re walking across campus and don’t feel safe, need assistance, or notice an emergency.
While on your campus tour, try and count how many times you see an emergency call box on campus and where they’re located. Depending on your own personal preferences and the campus environment, you may want there to be more of these available.
For example, on one campus tour I went on, you could always see at least 1 emergency call box, no matter where you were on campus. While on another campus tour, however, they were more dispersed.
3. Student Patrol
Another great service that some colleges offer is student patrol, where a fellow student can walk or drive you back to your dorm, vehicle, or home at night. (The specific services offered vary between campuses.)
This service helps maintain a safe campus environment and helps students arrive safely wherever they need to go.
While this won’t be something that you spot on campus, it’s definitely something you should ask your campus guide about.
4. Dining Centers on Campus
Many students are concerned about the quality of food on campus, but I think it is just as important to be concerned about the availability of dining centers on campus.
Some campuses may have plenty of places to eat at, while others may only have a handful. Additionally, it’s possible that some dining locations may only take a certain type of food plan transaction (such as meal swipes versus flex dollars), which means that you may have to walk to a certain location to get food. (Which can get annoying if it’s on the other side campus.)
Here’s some questions to ask your student tour guide on your campus tour:
- How many dining locations are located across campus?
- What type of meal plans do they take?
- Do they allow carry-out options?
- What are their hours?
5. Quality of On-Campus Food
To check out the quality of on-campus food, try out one of their dining locations! I recommend doing this after the campus tour, if possible, because they may provide you with a free or discounted meal coupon in your information packet.
While food quality may not sound like a huge deal to some people, I actually found that it was pretty significant, especially if you have any dietary needs that will need to be addressed should you choose to attend that college.
Whether it’s gluten-free, allergen-free, vegetarian, vegan, or something else, make sure that you will have several different options to choose from each day that fit your needs. Additionally, the availability and/or process of having specialty food offered is something to ask your campus tour guide about.
6. Availability of Parking
Have a car and planning on residing on campus or commuting? Then asking about the availability of parking spots on campus during your tour is a must.
Here are some questions to ask your campus tour guide:
- Where is parking available?
- How much does it cost?
- Are permits available?
- Are there certain parking “zones” for each permit?
- Are there designated parking spaces available for residents/commuters?
- How hard is it to find a parking spot?
7. Transportation Options
Like I said before, I didn’t have a car my freshman year, which meant I was either relying on a friend or calling a taxi when I needed to get around town.
So if you won’t have a car with you on campus (like me), look for some other transportation options available.
Are there bus stops that could take you to a grocery store? Do you see taxis around? Are there sidewalks or a bike lane?
If you don’t see any, be sure to ask your campus tour guide!
8. On-Campus Housing
On any college tour, you’re bound to be shown a dorm room. However, there’s a big difference between the display dorm room and the real dorm room.
So while on your campus tour, be sure to check out the display dorm room AND a real dorm room (no matter how alike the campus tour guide claims them to be.
In addition, you may wish to look for themed housing on your campus tour, such as honors students housing, wellness housing, major-specific housing, and more. You can also check out my post on how to choose your college dorm.
9. The Surrounding Community
On your way to or from your college tour, be sure to check out the surrounding community!
Look for the availability of stores, restaurants and cafes, and other fun places that you can hang out with your friends.
It’s also a good idea to see whether there are local job opportunities for internships or post-grad work. If you’re going to be spending several years in the area, make sure that it’s somewhere you like and feel comfortable living in!
10. Offices for Additional Opportunities
The more opportunities that you have and are willing to take advantage of during college, the more likely you are to succeed.
While on your campus tour, you’ll probably be shown a lot of them, but don’t hesitate to ask about any you don’t see!
These are some offices for additional opportunities to look for:
- Writing Center
- Study Abroad Office
- Career Center
- Research Lab
Campus tours are a ton of fun and a great way to learn more about the college! So while on your campus tour, don’t forget to look for and ask about these 10 campus essentials; they can make all the difference in your college experience!