What to look for on your college campus tour

College campus tours are a bit like a safari. It’s your first time in the wild, you’re mystified by the range of species and how they’re interacting with each other, you’re told to observe, but not to engage.

The thing is, unless you’re a zoologist, or a baboon, it’s tough to know what to be looking for.  

Visiting a campus and being able to picture your life there can be a deciding factor when making the big decision, so to ensure that you get the most out of it, consider these 5 things that a creature of the wild would have you look out for:

1. Student Lounges: As you start to take more of the same type of classes you’ll end up in the same academic building for the better part of a day. Whether you’re floating adrift between a class that ended at 2:00 and one that starts at 3:30, or are scampering up two flights of stairs to a class that starts in 15 minutes, your student lounge will ultimately become your hub. Take a look around the lounge, if there is one, and make sure that it’s not overly cramped, it has tables big enough to seat a study group, and that the food options are varietal and moderately priced. If you’ve decided on a major, pay extra attention to the particular student lounges in those buildings.

2. Greek and University Clothing: Even more important than the amount of guys or girls wearing Pink Floyd shirts to a noon class is the amount of guys or girls wearing Greek Letters or university shirts. This speaks not just to the amount of fraternities, sororities or sports teams, but to the level of pride for each one. A lot of Greek shirts mean that the sororities and fraternities are actually effectual, through parties, campus involvement or philanthropy. A lot of university shirts tell you that a significant amount of students attend the sports games or are proud to represent the school. This is very important because there are many schools that are big in size, but have very little attendance at sports games or pride.

3. Congregation: The simple truth is that while college is going to be full of people your age looking to make friends and have fun, the campus doesn’t always cater to this desire. The perpetually autumn fields where romance, philosophy and spontaneous two-hand touch football games are born does not always exist. Tradition, architecture and off-campus living are the things that determine how vivaciously social the student body will be. Make sure to look for typical congregation areas and try to spot how many people are hanging out or just passing through.

4. Construction: It is very common for campuses to be undergoing construction. Unless you’re on a Harvard type campus where the buildings are magically historic, the university should be making some sort of improvements. Pay attention to where these developments are and make sure to ask how long they’ll take to finish. A new student area, dormitory or a glorious field could be just final perk you’re looking for.  

5. Campus Newspaper: While your tour guide will be sure to mention only the positive things, there are still ways to find out some dirt on your potential university. The simplest way: pick up a campus newspaper. Journalism students love to be critical. They are the voice of the student body—living testimony to the intelligence and passion of our country’s students—yet they are also 20-year-olds upset and overwhelmed by student loans, the lack of vegan meal options, the latest fraternity scandal, etc. By reading through the campus paper you will find out what on- and off-campus situations students are happy or unhappy with.

College Visit Getting into College What to Expect

A party school is usually a party school because it’s big and has a lot of money. Solo-cups aside there are a lot of good reasons to go to a big school with a lot of money. 

These schools tend to have good sports teams, good housing, good food, beautiful campuses, great teachers, tons of school pride and a lot of chances to make long lasting professional connections. And a plethora of good friends too, of course.

You know what’s more important than knowing the school you’re applying to? Knowing yourself. Because the reality is, you don't need to have heard of the school for it to be a good fit. The best boyfriends or girlfriends aren’t always the popular ones. They're just the ones you haven't gotten to know yet. 

There is more than one way to give a grade. When Forbes comes up with their 50 Top American Colleges, like they have for the past seven years, you must understand that their opinion isn’t absolute.

If you pay attention you’ll see that the list starts with no scaling system to support their choices and that even in the description of the colleges, popular statistics such as Graduation Rates and Student Diversity aren’t mentioned (at least not consistatnly). Neither, as you’ll notice, are tuition rates.

Okay, here’s my intro for the day—Free Stuff. Do I have your attention? Do I?

What kind of free stuff? Free summer stuff! Because everyone knows that the only way to close out a Summer is to drape yourself in an oversized sunhat and sip Starbucks Ice Tea until you levitate.

Every day between now and July 31st at 5 p.m. you can enter the Starbucks Brew Your Own Summer contest to win prizes from three different Summer Survival Kits: Summer Entertaining, Summer Fun, and Summer Style.

There are several things that change instantly from high school to college, like a caterpillar to a winged fairy insect. One of those things is that people stop judging you for taking school seriously. No one is a nerd in college. No one is a suck up in college. No one has to be told to stop messing around during class, because nobody ever is messing around during class.

Any good writer (or any writer trying to get a good grade) will know that the researching process makes or breaks a paper. You chop through an Amazon of online readings, collecting and jotting down game changing facts, stats and quotes in order to support your awesome ideas and tug at your teachers rubric heart strings.

The nightmarish ending to this journey is one we all know. 

Freshmen make mistakes. Lots of them. But other people's experiences can help you avoid a few. 

Ask an upperclassman or college graduate what words they associate with “freshman” and we guarantee you that “clueless” shows up near the top of the list. It’s not the freshman’s fault. For the most part, going to college is a totally new experience. And having new experiences means making a whole bunch of new mistakes.

The year was 1776 and the American colonists were too busy fighting a war against the imperialist nation of England to be going to college. There was no American History gen-ed at the time—they had to make it first. 

Every summer break from college I made sure to go to at least one music festival. This time last year I was driving up to Michigan to the Electric Forest Festival where egos disappear and people are quite truly transformed.

Traveling to a festival and camping on the grounds is a part of the experience, but it's also kind of the worst part of the experience. But what if you lived close enough to be able to go home each night or head home during the show to shower and refresh? Would be pretty nice right? 

We think it would. And we think attending some of these schools that are mere miles from some of the most popular festival stages in the country, would make a lot of sense for someone into that scene. 

As an intern you’re not expected to do great things. You’re overlooked, slightly taken advantage of, and quickly forget. You may not even have a last name—just [insert first name] The Intern.

But the secret is—they need you. They need you and they want you there, and there’s a lot of room to be great.

So how do you do it, you ask?

Future anthropologists will mine the internet and find countless seconds of audio files called podcasts. They will add up to be much longer than a person's lifetime. These anthropologists will wonder why we burdened ourselves with so much information and how we consumed thought provoking content so consistently while working, studying and or socializing throughout the day.

Like a spoiled kid on his birthday, when you're inundated with so many toys you realize you don't have the time to play with them all, despite how entertaining and enlightening they may be.

Having something you wrote with your name attached to it on a website that you didn’t create is resume gold.

Guest blogging shows initiative, skill, and business cunning. And although it seems like everyone’s doing it, trust me, it’ll still make you stand out.

The easiest thing for college students to write about is, of course, college. Using smart phone apps in college, going to parties in college, going on spring break in college. Just look at the advice pieces written by Academbot’s recent college grads.

Making a class schedule is like a digital jigsaw puzzle.

One class lets you sleep till 11 p.m.—another follows that class directly after and at the same spot on campus—but another has a better teacher and ends earlier while another is being taken by your suitemate. As far as puzzles go this one’s pretty fun. It’s a power trip in which you’re constantly treating yourself with better classes at more flexible times. But for a first timer, it can be troubling putting so much trust into yourself and the machine.

1. Elizabeth Banks- Hi my name is Elizabeth and I'm a Communications major at the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Rachel McAdams- Hi my name is Rachel and I'm getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University.

3. Brad Pitt- Hi my name is Brad and I'm a journalism major with a focus in adveritsing at the University of Missouri.

4. Debra Messing- Hi my name is Brenda and I study theater arts at Brandies University.

Pages