11 Things to Look for on a Campus Tour

Campus visits can be an important step in choosing your college. Check out these 11 things to look for on a campus tour.

portrait of Ellery Weil
by Ellery Weil

Published March 16, 2022

Edited by Will Baker
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11 Things to Look for on a Campus Tour


Once your college application results are in, choosing which college to attend can be an exciting final step.

There are many factors to consider. For prospective students, an in-person visit to the colleges where they've been accepted — and a tour with a current student — can be helpful in the decision-making process.

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Ready to start your journey?

But what specific things should you look for when you're visiting a college campus? Here are 11 things to keep an eye out for during a campus tour.

1. Your Major's Department

For prospective students who have already decided on a major, finding out more about that department during a campus tour is crucial.

The size of the department, how well funded it is, and what the professors are like are all important factors that can impact your academic experience.

During the tour, try to take a look at the building where your major's department is housed. You can see what the facility you'll be studying in is like. Also, see whether you can meet or get in contact with current students and faculty in the department.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Is [major] a popular subject at this college?
  • Are there any ways I can reach out to students here who are majoring in [major]?

2. Student Services Offices

When touring a college campus, many prospective students don't give student services a second thought — but that's a mistake.

The student services office provides a variety of support options for students. These services include financial aid, career counseling, and academic support.

As a college student, you may need to turn to student services if you are struggling to pay tuition, need to rearrange your course schedule, or are looking for a job or internship, among other things.

Be sure to check out what student services looks like on your campus tour. Ask your tour guide if the student services officers have a good reputation.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Have you found student services helpful during your time here?
  • Where would I go if I had an urgent question about [finances, job placement, etc.]?

3. Condition of the Dorms

For many students, dorm life is an important part of the college experience, particularly during their first year.

If you decide to live on campus, your dorm will be more than a place where you sleep and often study. It will also be the first place you'll meet fellow students and a hub for social activities.

You'll want to live somewhere you'll be comfortable, so be sure to check out the dorms on your campus tour. Look for the condition of individual rooms and any common areas like lounges, game rooms, computer hubs, and outdoor facilities.

You can also check whether most rooms are singles, doubles, or triples and quads. This way you can figure out how many roommates you're likely to have.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Which dorms have you lived in? Did you like it?
  • Do many students live off campus?

4. Surrounding Area and Community

Whether the campus is urban, rural, or in a classic college town, you'll want to know about the community surrounding your college. This includes whether local shops and restaurants are affordable for students, what kinds of social and housing opportunities are available off campus, and if there are any notable "town and gown" rivalries.

You'll also want to assess the local community in terms of safety. While college students typically spend most of their time on campus or in school-related activities, it's important to feel safe in your neighborhood and to know your way around — even when you've left the confines of the school campus itself.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Do you feel safe in the area around campus?
  • What neighborhoods are popular for students to hang out in?

5. Campus Health Center

It's crucial to stay healthy, especially when you're in college.

Be sure to check out the campus health center to see what kinds of medical resources will be available to you. This should include finding out what the campus health center's policy is regarding health insurance and what hours they're open for walk-in services.

It can also be a good idea to confirm whether the college is located near, or has an affiliation with, a local hospital. Medical emergencies happen. So it's good to know what the options are for students in need of urgent or specialty care.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Does this college have a partnership with a nearby hospital?
  • What kind of health insurance can students get through the school?

6. Mental Health Services

Mental health is as important as physical health, and college can be a difficult transition period for many students. With that in mind, ask your tour guide what mental health resources are available to students.

Mental health resources can take many forms. Some students who are experiencing stress benefit from relaxation events, self-care resources, and extra awareness around difficult times, like finals week.

In other cases, students may be dealing with a more personal or particularly challenging mental health issue. They may benefit from seeing a counselor.

See what options your prospective school has available to deal with and promote mental health.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Is it difficult to get an appointment with a mental health counselor?
  • What kind of de-stressing activities are available on campus?

7. Library

Ready to hit the books? Your college's library, or libraries, will be more than an important source of study materials.

Libraries are places to study, write, work on collaborative projects with your classmates, and more. The campus library is also a hub for electronic resources, including computer labs, printers, scanners, and more.

Looking at the campus library, take note of not only the resources available but also the atmosphere. Depending on your personal study style, a library's noise level, crowds, and physical study spaces can make or break how comfortable you feel there.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • What are the library's hours?
  • Is studying in the library usually quiet, or is it noisy?

8. Cafeteria

Feeling hungry? Living on campus often means purchasing a meal plan and eating at the campus dining hall.

If "an army marches on its stomach," the same can be said of college students. You'll need a nutritious and varied diet to stay in shape and perform your best at school.

When you're checking out the cafeteria, take note of the physical space you'll be eating in and how many offerings there are at any given meal.

Many campus dining halls offer "stations'' with different dishes so everyone can find something to eat at any given meal. This is a good option for students with special dietary needs.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Does the meal plan have options for special diets (vegan, religious requirements, allergies, etc.)?
  • Do most students take out a meal plan?

9. Gym

Even if you don't plan to go out for any sports teams, the college gym can be a great place to stay in shape and meet up with fellow students.

Depending on your preference, you may use the gym for team sports like basketball, solo sports like swimming and tennis, or exercise on the treadmill while you listen to music.

Take a look at the campus gym facilities to see if they are clean, are welcoming, and offer all the options you're looking for. Be sure to check the gym hours, too, and make sure they're compatible with a full course load.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Can you use the gym even if you aren't a student-athlete?
  • Have the gym facilities been updated recently?

10. Student Body Diversity

College is a great time to step out of your comfort zone and meet people who've had different experiences from you. In fact, a diverse campus has been shown to improve long-term outcomes for students across the board.

With that in mind, for students of color and LGBTQ+ students, it's also important to have a college experience where you know you're not alone.

This is why it's a good idea to check out campus diversity initiatives. Make sure your college is doing everything it can to support students from all backgrounds and to create a campus where everyone feels welcome.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Is there an office for campus diversity?
  • What kind of extracurricular options are there to meet students who are also [people of color, LGBTQ+, etc.]?

11. Campus Transportation Options

Getting around on campus is vital for keeping you on track with your classes and extracurricular activities. This is especially true for commuter students, who often have particularly intense transportation needs.

Depending on whether your campus is urban, rural, or suburban, it's critical that you look into transportation options for students. This can include campus-run shuttle buses to help you get around, local public transportation like buses and trains, and more.

For students who prefer to bring their own transportation, check out the availability of parking spaces and bike racks for students on campus.

Questions for Tour Guide:

  • Can I bring a car/bicycle to campus?
  • What are the hours of public transportation (buses, etc.)?

Feature Image: fstop123 / E+ / Getty Images

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