By Mary Meacham / Columnist and Photojournalist
Please give me your advice for taking college tours! What do I wear, what do I ask, how do I gauge if a school is right for me?
Dear Prospective student,
College tours are daunting. You suddenly feel like you’re being thrown into a day at college when you don’t even feel ready to be looking. You never know the right outfit balance. Your parents are probably asking terribly embarrassing questions, and you are trying to impress your tour guide so much that she personally vouches for your application.
Long story short, college tours are hard, but it is so important to remember that there is no pressure on you to perform well in these settings. Your sole job is to take in what the school is like, and think about if it could be the place for you! That being said, I would be lying if I said that I never put too much pressure on myself walking into these tours, so I am here to offer my best advice for the journey ahead! Sit back, relax, and read my fool-proof tips for college tours!
Step one: the outfit. While it does depend on the season, the type of tour, and the people you are meeting, I think it is always a safe bet to wear something comfortable but nice. I tended to go for the classic jean, top, and sweater trio. How could you go wrong? Above all, you are dressing to feel like yourself and to feel the most comfortable as you trek through every building and acre of the college campuses. At the end of the day, as long as you are adhering to the Harpeth Hall casual day guidelines, you’re in the clear.
Step two: the questions. I am not going to lie, I did not ask a single question on my first three college tours. I was scared to seem uninformed or as though I had not researched the school in advance. However, as I continued going on tours and listening to the questions that other students were asking, I realized how helpful it was to hear the answers. So many people asked the questions that I had been wanting to ask, and the answers helped me understand so much more about the schools than just the tour. Similarly, the tour guides want the questions! They are there because they want to talk about the school that they love, and they appreciate when you are interested and engaged.
A small side note here, be sure to leave room for all people to ask questions, and that your questions are informed. On one college tour I went on, our entire group stood for fifteen minutes as a student asked an array of questions ranging from “Where do students brush their teeth?” to “Where would I be able to park my bike freshman year?” While no question is a bad question, I encourage more personal questions to be left until after the tour.
Step 3 (last one!): The big question, is this the right school for me? Personally, I expected to walk onto a college campus, feel a magical spark connecting me to the place, and immediately stop the college process because I had found the perfect fit. This probably isn’t going to happen. It certainly did not happen for me! I urge you all to take college tours with an open mind and an understanding that the tour will not answer every question you have. You are going to find the right place for you, but do not worry about not feeling an immediate connection while on the tour. Take the opportunity to learn about the school, their programs, and the type of student body it fosters.
Once again, college tours can be scary. They are your first introduction to the place you could potentially live for the next four years. Just remember to keep an open mind, ask good questions, be yourself, and wear comfortable shoes. You got this!