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College Tour Tips!

Tour after tour after tour.

After tour.

I am now a professional college campus “tourer”,
or at least I feel like one.

I traveled as far North as Vermont and as far West as Nashville to tour schools I “thought” might be a good fit for me. After walking what feels like millions of college campus’s, I believe I now have an ingrained set of questions or tips that really come in handy when touring campuses. Don’t be fooled, you will  hear people at school talking about they walked on to a college campus and just knew it was the right place for them. This did not happen to me in any way shape or form. I never got that magical “feeling”. Don’t be worried! This isn’t a sign that you won’t end up in the right place (I am proof) it’s just a sign that it might be a little more difficult for you to decide. No matter if your heart is set on one school, or you have no idea where you will end up, college tours are pivotal to the decision.  

1.     Look at a dorm room- this is super important (well at least it was for me). This is where you will be living so you want to make sure they are at least doable. Now remember, these are dorm rooms not 5 star hotels. So don’t expect marble countertops and hardwood floors. It’s also fun when they take you into a current student’s room because then you are able to get an idea what some of the students at the school are like!

2.     Grab a school newspaper- This gives you a great insight into what is going on throughout campus. It will tell you about activities, rituals, clubs, sports, what students are accomplishing, professors, and even problems that are occurring on campus. I ensured that I got a student newspaper from every school I toured and they were so interesting to read about!

3.     Talk with a current student – I’m not going to lie to you, this  can be awkward. My mom would always start up a conversation with a current student whether it was in the dining hall or just asking for directions and ask them about their experience at the school. Embarrassing I know! But, as a current college student now who hosts perspective students and their parents for lunches and overnights I love when perspectives ask me questions (and let me brag about how great my school is). It may be embarrassing and intimidating, but you want to hear from a student’s perspective about the academic rigor, housing, partying (yes, the party scene), social life, extracirrulars, work study, study aboard, etc.

4.     Take pictures- When you are touring numerous schools, schools tend to start to resemble each other. This is an easy way to look back at a school and bring back memories and thoughts about the school. You don’t even need to bring a camera, an Iphone will work just fine J

5.     Ask what percentage of students that graduate in 4 years- this is pretty self-explanatory, but super important!

6.     Ask what the retention rate is after the first year- This number is a good indication of how freshmen like the school. If lots of people transfer after the first year, this could be a bad sign.

7.     Take notes about your first reactions- Your first instinct is important. If you love something from the first second, write it down. If you distinctly hate something about the school, write it down. These thoughts are SO handy when you’re trying to make one of the most important decisions of your life.

8.     Don’t go during a break or holiday- I made this mistake. Not that this is in anyway a make or break, but it’s extremely hard to get a feel for a campus if the students are not there. You want to look at the students to see what they’re wearing ( I know this sounds conceited, however this can be a good indication) and how they act. Often times when you visit over a break, the campus is going to feel empty, uneventful, and boring. Plus how are you suppose to talk to a student if all the students are missing?!

9.     Drive around the surrounding area- You’re going to be spending the next 4 years of your life in this town! And as important as the campus is, the surrounding town is almost as important. While you most likely will be living on campus at least your first year, you will still be going off campus. It’s important to be aware of the surrounding area. Urban vs. rural. These are important questions! Are you truly okay with being 50 minutes from the closest target?

10.  DON’T “Urban dictionary” a school – BIG BIG BIG MISTAKE. I fell into this hole and regret it. In the end, the definition urban dictionary gave this certain school terrified me (even though I had a great tour). It completely turned me off and I couldn’t get this one comment out of my head even though there were sooooo many things about the school that I loved. As tempted as you are, learn from my mistakes, and don’t do it. 

GOOD LUCK! With these tips and questions,  you'll impress any college counselor :)

Here are my college application tips for you!
Here is my college packing list!

Keep in mind,




  1. Hi, Shannon! I'm a high school junior and this will be SO helpful when I go on college visits this year. I'm looking at Spring Hill, Vanderbilt, Rhodes, Wofford, and Furman, so hopefully one of them will be a good fit!! Thanks so much for the post!
    Caroline, pinkandgreenpearls.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Caroline! That's so exciting! I hope you LOVE Furman as much as I do! Let me know when you visit and we can try to meet up! If you have any questions feel free to email me!

  2. These are such great tips! I'm already in college (a freshman, woop!) but from my experience, everything you listed is great. Great job!

    Constance || Prep Northwest

  3. Love your blog! I actually had a quick suggestion on something that interests me greatly -- to my knowledge you don't really focus on beauty. But for one post, I would be very interested in seeing how you do your hair and makeup on a day to day basis, as all the photos I've seen of you are beautiful!


    1. Awww thank you!! I'll definitely put it on the list for posts! Thanks for the idea, I love hearing from readers!

  4. Is there any way I could get a copy of your notes? #desperate #ijustcantdecide #iappliedto27andpaidallthedeposits

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