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Taking a University (college) Tour is worth it.

My daughter is entering her second year of High School.  College is right around the corner.  Since my youngest was taking a summer camp on a local college campus, my oldest and I decided to tour the campus.  It was a young university but was getting good reviews.

After touring the university, my daughter was so ready to go to college.  I heard her say "cool" a lot.  There was an energy and enthusiasm on the tour and with people.  I told her, "Hold on, this is just one campus.  You really need to check out the others." 

We decided to plan another trip to the University of Virginia.  It would be a day trip and we'd have to get up early to drive out to it but the last university was such a success, we were willing.  We got there a half hour early and we walked around for a bit.  Definitely an older school - founded by Thomas Jefferson. It was large and stately. I said, "I feel like it's a grown up school."

My daughter laughed and said, "As opposed to a kid school.  I think it's more experienced."

"Yeah, that's it."  It really gave an air of seriousness.

We went to the information session.  I got a little more insight with the application process.  I started making notes.  My plan: When she finally picks her area of study and her college faves, we would call the admissions office and ask if they have similar applications process.

Then we took a tour of the campus.  Again, the feeling of serious, stately manner was throughout the campus.  I didn't like the college but decided to keep it to myself.  As we headed home, my daughter asked, "What'd you think?"

"Uhm," I said, not sure if I should share my opinion, "It was OK."

"Yeah, I like the other school better.  There was more excitement."

I was relieved that it was not just me.  I did point out to her that this university may just be very quiet in the summer.  Everything was closed, unlike the other school.  I also pointed out that UVA had one of the majors she was considering, the other did not.

My daughter's assessment of the UVA was, "It was nice.  I could go there.  It would be fine."  then she asked if we could try another college next week.

  • Most campuses require a reservations, you can make them online.
  • Weekend reservations fill very quickly.
  • One reservation asked what grade the student was going into and the only options were Junior or Senior.  My daughter is a sophomore -  I put Junior.  There were no problems
  • Expect to tour the campus for at least an hour to an hour and a half on foot - bring water and sunglasses in summer, coats in winter.
  • Information session is about an hour
  • Bring something to keep notes.  I would suggest a small journal so you can keep track of what each college says.


  1. Touring campuses definitely is the motivational factor that gets the gears moving towards applying. I remember when I was in high school I wasn't too interested in going to college. I don't know what I had planned to do, but college just didn't fully excite me. My family urged me to attend college fair and apply to schools, and I did--hesitantly. It was not until I stepped foot on my first campus as a visitor and not just there for some summer camp or field trip that I became truly excited about going off to college.

    1. I think my daughter had a similar attitude - more like yeah, college is something I need to do like High School. It wasn't until she went on the campus tours that she got excited about it.

  2. You have on insightful daughter! Thank God for that. When I was 16 years old, i received a music scholarship, to a very prestigious college. At that age, I was not prepared to leave my family, and start my new adventure. There was something about that school that did not feel right. Maybe I was wrong, but my parents t did not push me, nor did they question my feelings. That feeling hounded me throughout my adult life.Every time I tried to enroll in school, those feelings kept coming back. That initial experience kept me from attending school, for a season. At age 35, I overcame those fears, enrolled in school, and the rest is history.

    My parents should have toured more campuses with me, as you have done with your daughter. At least, she won't have to wait till she is a fully grown woman, in order to enroll in school. Good read. Blessings.

    1. In your parent's defense, I don't think campus tours were encouraged back then and only mildly encourage it now. We just happen to take the tour because my other daughter had camp there. It was kind of a fluke but will recommend it to anyone who brings it up :)

  3. This is a time that you and your daughter will be immersed in decisions and schools. It is a fabulous idea to tour the schools. It can really give her a sense of what she will be living in a couple years. :-)

    1. Agreed and yes it really had a bonding element to it - ROAD TRIP - with my daughter. Lots of time to just talk.

  4. College tours can be a very eye opening experience for both the student and the parent. My cousin has been on several tours with her daughter and the schools that she thought she had to go to has changed since her tours. College is such a wonderful experience and no student should go in blind.

    1. Alas I did ;) I'm lucky I still had a great experience but in retrospect I think I would have made a better decision if I did take tours.

  5. College tours are a great idea. They get the imagination fired up and give a little focus. It's easy for a 16 year old to want to zone out or not think about university, it's a big change. By doing the tour it takes the fear factor away and opens up the possibilities. Thanks for the tips.

    1. That's exactly it - she got fired up and yes I think she saw school as a cool place to be and not this huge scary monstrosity at the end of high school.

  6. College is such a huge life event, not to mention an huge financial investment. It only makes sense to tour potential schools. I used to teach in a rural district, and was always amazed at what a fire it could set for students to want to go to school simply by being given the chance to experience the environment.

  7. I had never heard much about my alma mater (USC) until someone suggested I apply. Even then, I didn't learn anything about it until I took a campus tour my senior in high school. It was that tour that convinced me that USC was the perfect choice for me, and I will live by that choice until the day I die. USC so far has been the best thing that could happen for me, and I wouldn't have ended up there if I hadn't opted to fly across the country for the tour. It was during classes, so people were still around, but it was exactly the excitement and energy of the campus that caught me. I got scholarship offers from two smaller schools, and I toured both of them, and realized I didn't like either of them. If I hadn't taken the tours, I would have unknowingly chosen one of them just for the scholarship...

  8. I hope you will keep in submitting new articles or blog posts & thank you for sharing your great experience among us.


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