Here's What to Bring On Your Campus Tours This Spring
College visits are an important part of the college prep process, as it help students learn more about schools of interest in order to build their balanced college list. Campus visits are a marathon – not a sprint – and taking along the right items can help make your time touring schools a lot easier!
Before visiting a college it’s important to do proper research. Students should learn everything they can about the school and why it interests them. Is it a specific major? The location? The athletics? This will help them to go into the visit knowing what to expect and what to ask.
Research is also important as it can help you better prepare for the actual tour. Will it be cold while you’re there? Hot? Rainy? Will students be there or will campus be relatively empty? Are there any special events happening? How will that impact your time on campus? All of these questions can be answered by doing ample research before you even get there.
It’s critical for students (and parents!) to come prepared, not just with information, but also items that will help make the campus visit experience even better. Here are six must-have items for your college visits.
You did all that great research beforehand, but what were you not able to find on the website? Come prepared with questions to ask the admissions officer during the information session, as well as questions for the tour guide. Think about these well ahead of your visit, and store them on your smartphone or in an easily accessible notebook. This is your opportunity to get answers straight from the source, so make sure your questions are thoughtful and not about something that you could easily learn from the website. For some examples of questions to ask on college visits, check out the links below:
This can't be stressed enough! There will be a lot of walking during your college visits – and not just during the walking tour. Students and parents should try to visit a dorm, explore areas of interest like the gym or theaters, eat in the dining hall, and explore the community surrounding the campus. This typically involves a lot of walking, and if you’re wearing uncomfortable shoes your feet will start to feel the burn pretty quickly. Foot pain can make a college visit go downhill fast, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes that you know you can walk in for an extended period of time.
All of the walking, coupled with talking with your parents, admissions officers, tour guides, professors, etc., can lead to dehydration and a dry mouth. Take a long a water bottle so that you can hydrate throughout the day. This will help you stay focused and energized, and prevent you from having to ditch the tour to find some water. Bonus: Take a snack or two if you know there’s going to be a long period of time between the tour and visiting a dining hall or on campus restaurant.
Rainy Weather Gear
While research can help you pack for the appropriate weather beforehand, rain showers can pop up unexpectedly, especially if you’re visiting campuses in the spring. It’s good to have an umbrella or a light rain jacket on hand just in case that 30% chance of rain changes to 100% after you’ve already left home.
External Battery Charger
We always advise students to take notes and photos while touring colleges. With the evolution of smartphones, students can take photos and video, record answers to their questions, type up notes in an app, and keep track of every piece of information about their itinerary right on their phone. Smartphones are convenient and make it easier for students to enjoy their time on campus without having to balance a notepad in one hand and a camera in the other. However, since students’ phone will get heavy use during a college tour, it’s a smart idea to bring an extra battery pack to charge up your phone if it starts to drain too quickly. An extra phone charger with an outlet plug is also a good idea in case you take a break in a place where you can plug in quickly.
Students tend to travel light, but with those extra items on you like your water bottle, umbrella, battery pack, wallet, phone, etc., it's a good idea to take a small bag or backpack to keep everything organized. But just like your shoes, your bag should be built for comfort. Don’t take a bag that will start to hurt your shoulders after a few hours, or a backpack that causes extra strain on your back.
College visits are an exciting adventure for both students and parents, so make sure you’re prepared before you head out and, most importantly, have fun!