Every high school junior or senior knows the routine: pack up the car, drive an obscene amount of hours, stay the night in a hotel, and wake up early morning to an hour and a half of walking and talking. Students waste time and money visiting college campuses only to go home with the same opinion of the school as before.
Many will spend the long ride home wondering why they even bothered to see the
campus. What is the purpose of college tours? Ideally, they are meant to give prospective students an impression of the school. The information session will give an idea of the university’s research programs, academic standing, and employment and salary statistics. The tour will expose the student to the school environment and campus. With these two combined, the student will leave with a firm decision on whether to apply or not.
However, the second hardly ever happens. After all, no one should expect to leave a college campus tour with a worse opinion than when she entered. The visits are designed to make students fall in love with the school. The admissions officers and student guides are not going to mention that they are speaking for a commuter school in an unsafe neighborhood with mediocre programs. Of course, the student will leave with the mindset that they must apply. The tours fail to narrow down the student’s list of potential colleges.
Additionally, any information of value that a student would receive in the information session is readily available online. Via online forums and conversations with others, students can get an idea for the school environment. They can even tour the campus with Google Maps. No driving or hotels required. If a student is to leave with no determination of their application status and no exclusive information, why does she still go on the tours?
Of course, a case can be made for touring the schools after she has gotten into a few and wishes to choose between them. Additionally, it can never hurt to visit a few schools to get an understanding of whether the student prefers city or rural campuses, small or large student population, etc. However, it is clearly unreasonable to travel across the country and spend money for an unproductive tour of every school a student is considering applying to. Rather these years would be better spent studying for placement exams, keeping up grades, and building an extracurricular actives résumé.
By: Kaitlyn Brown’19, Co-Junior Editor-in-Chief