Deciding which college you want to go to after graduating from high school can be a difficult decision for many students, especially for students who fortunately have a lot of options. If you are doing well in high school, then there's a good chance that you will get accepted by a number of different schools, as long as you apply to a number of safety schools, target schools and reach schools. But, if you're having trouble deciding which schools to apply to or which school to attend after getting your acceptance letter, then you can schedule a college tour to help you make your decision. Scheduling a college tour is easy, once you know how to do it.

Know When to Schedule Your Tour

The first step in scheduling a college tour is to know when the best time is to do it. One of the main reasons that prospective students should make time to visit a school they plan on applying to is in order to see what life is like on campus. Due to this reason, visiting in the summertime or on a weekend is not really the best time to go. That being said, many colleges do offer a bulk of their tours during the summer, as the focus can be on the students doing the tour, without so many distractions.

When Should High School Students Visit Colleges

High school seniors can begin scheduling college tours as early as fall in their junior year of high school, up until the spring of their senior year. However, some families may encourage their children to start looking as early as freshman year. The problem with this is students grow a lot in that time, and may change their mind often. So, if you plan on visiting colleges at the beginning of freshman year, keep an open mind and simply be aware of what you seem to like and dislike about the various schools you visit.

If you plan on visiting schools later on in your high school career, you might be wondering whether or not you should schedule a tour before or after acceptance. Sometimes, high school students might want to schedule a tour before applying to narrow down their application list. Others prefer to go after getting accepted, to help them make a more well-informed decision about where to go. Some students like to do both. It's best to book your tour when the weather is decent (as you'll be spending a lot of time walking around campus) and during the week. Don't visit on a school break, either, because there won't be much going on!

How to Set Up College Tours

There are many different ways to schedule a tour of a college campus. The first thing you should do is check the colleges' websites. Usually, on the Office of Admissions' page or the Registrars' Office page, there will be information on when tours are given and how to register for a tour. There are different kinds of tours you can schedule, for instance, there are private tours, group tours and days when you can just come and walk around the campus on your own, depending on the school.

Registration for these tours can easily be done on the college's website and most of the time, they provide a link to travel information as well, which can be useful for families that may be coming from far away. If you don't see information on the school's website, then write an email or call that school's Registrars' Office or Office of Admissions to ask about scheduling a tour.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Tour

College tours can sometimes be overwhelming, as prospective students will have a lot of information to take in at once. Though there are usually guides that will take you around campus and introduce you to what life may be like if you decide to go to that school, you need to be an advocate for your own experience.

Therefore, if you're shy, you need to try and step out of your comfort zone a little. See if you can actually sit in on a class. Write a list of questions you'd like to ask while you're on your tour or make a "college visits checklist." Pay attention to the type of students that are on campus. Also, pay attention to your own gut feeling throughout the entire time you're on the tour. Most importantly, do some reflection after. Write a pros and cons list to compare the schools you've visited.

What to Do if You Can't Schedule a Tour

Not all students are able to schedule a tour before applying to college. Perhaps it's much too far, and the family doesn't have the time or money to make it out there for a tour. Luckily, there are alternatives.

Many schools now provide "virtual tours" online. While it's not exactly the same thing as physically being there, it's an alternative. Other schools may have days when the admissions office comes to various cities to meet with prospective students. Again, it's not the same, but it's a good opportunity to ask questions. Lastly, if you do get accepted to a school and you make your decision based on these alternatives, you will have an orientation period before the school year begins. Even if you've already handed in your acceptance letter, this orientation can help re-affirm your decision.

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