A campus tour is your best opportunity to make sure a particular school is a good fit for you. To help you get the most out of your first trip to campus, we’ve compiled a list of 12 important questions you’d never even think to ask.
12 Questions to Make Sure to Ask Your Tour Guide
Where are the best and worst places to eat on campus?
Whether your school has a cafeteria, food trucks, or fast food spots, remember that not all campus eateries are created equal. Your tour guide can tell you the best places to grab a late-night snack, which places to avoid on Fridays, and if there are any “hidden gems” on campus or nearby.
Where can I just grab coffee real quick?
Or tea, or juice, or whatever fits your personal “I’m getting my Starbucks headache” needs between classes. Find out where you can quickly duck in, grab your pick-me-up, and get going again.
Is the Wi-Fi on campus any good?
Whether you want to pull your notes out of the cloud for a midterm that day, check Facebook real quick before class, or stream some Scandal on your lunch break, there’s going to come a time when the campus wireless signal strength (and availability) really, really matters. Is there Wi-Fi all over campus, or just in the dorms? Can you stream Netflix in your room, or does the lag time make it impossible?
What’s the parking situation?
Pro tip: parking spaces are among the most precious resources in college towns. Knowing what to expect with the parking situation ahead of time (if you’re allowed to bring your car to campus at all) will save you a ton of grief in the long term.
Ask about the availability of parking passes, how much they cost, and which days or times are the best and worst for driving to campus—and if you’re a bike commuter, ask about bicycle parking on campus.
How long does it take to walk from student housing to the library?
It’s easy to overlook how long it will actually take you to get around campus, especially when there’s a lot of foot traffic. Get a feel for how much time it will take you to walk, bike, or ride to different places on campus—this way, you’ll avoid that panicked weekly sprint when you wind up with a 15-minute break between classes on opposite ends of campus.
Is it easy to get lost on campus?
You’ll get a good sense of campus by the end of your first year or semester, but early on it can be easy to lose your way and get turned around. Find out if your university offers wayfinding apps, campus maps, or on-campus directories.
Where is a quiet place to take a break?
Imagine all those happy students relaxing or taking a break in the campus brochure—where is that place? Maybe your happy place ends up being a particular bench near the green, a specific couch on the second floor of the student union, or the back booth at the campus coffeehouse—ask your tour guide where they like to hang out and check it out for yourself. Can you see yourself there?
Is the campus clinic free?
Inevitably, at some point during your college years you’re going to feel a little under the weather. Many schools offer an on-campus clinic to treat minor illnesses, but some of these clinics charge for their services. Your university may also offer services for dental hygiene and mental wellness.
How do I get around?
Bike shares and walking trails, public transit and rickshaws—how you get around campus (and around town) matters. Be sure and ask your tour guide about bus schedules (and how they change on nights and weekends) and how bike friendly the town is.
Is the campus safe?
Or campus housing? Or how about the surrounding area? There may be times when you pull a late night at the library or come back late from downtown. Being prepared and knowing the area can make a difference—and will put your parents’ minds at ease.
Are there any campus traditions?
Maybe your school has a statue on the first floor of the student commons that athletes rub for luck before game day. Maybe it’s bad luck to walk on the university’s seal outside the president’s house. Or maybe students at your university just take Halloween really, really seriously. Definitely ask your tour guide about local and campus traditions to help you get acclimated in your first year.
Where do you usually hang out on campus?
Some students prefer the student lounges or commons areas. Others like the calm and quiet of the library. Maybe there’s a particular coffeehouse where the folks from your department like to spend their time after class. Find out where students get together, or scope out your own unique spot.
Are you starting to visit colleges as part of your college search process? Learn what you should be doing when you visit beyond taking the "typical" campus tour in our free College Visit Checklist.