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

Something tells us you didn't ask how safe the campus was on your college tour. Maybe you should.

The world around us is changing and even walking down the street is not as safe as it once was--or we would like it to be.

And while we may feel like college is an isolated little bubble, college campuses are not always immune to crime. Nowadays most colleges have specified police departments to help protect students and faculty. Many also even offer an escort program to walk you from building to building.

Want to go muddin' between classes?

For a lot of students, moving to the big city is part of their college dream.

But not everyone shares that same aspiration.

What if you’re from an urban area and looking for a change of scenery? Or what if you’ve always lived in a rural area and want to stay out in the sticks? Many colleges are located in highly populated areas, but not all of them.

It’s Football Tailgating Season.

Game day can be a huge part of the college experience.

Many university parking lots will be filled with thousands of fans every Saturday for the next few months. And while every school takes pride in its quirky approach to the game-day experience, nothing encompasses the uniqueness of a college-town atmosphere better than its tailgating scene.  It’s something that can’t exactly be described, but only felt first hand.

Check out these tips for commuters, but not while driving!

While you may be envious of your friends that are living on campus, making the decision to commute to school can save you a ton of money on room and board. And while you might not be at school 24/7, you can still make efficient use of your time commuting to and from classes.

Typical broke college kid? You don’t have to be.

College can be expensive. Very expensive. But for many students, the cost is somewhat justifiable as a college education provides maximized earning potential in the future. So since your spending all that money, to make money, why not kick those old, silly habits that are killing your bank account, now?

Your network of professionals can never be too big.

No matter what type of person you are, networking is an important skill to possess and develop.

Every connection you make can potentially be the key to your next job. Learning to present yourself well and being a genuine individual will take you far in your post-collegiate life.

The relationship between student and smartphone continues to be a huge part of the college experience.

Smartphones are the real deal these days. Gone are the "bricks" and "flip phones" that were only able to make calls and play "Snake." Cellphones are no longer just used for exclusively verbal communication--they are our connection to the real world around us, right now. Integrated into our everyday routines, they are task managers of our actual and virtual lives.

College life is no exception.

Looking to get active in college? Hustle to one of these schools.

Competitive college sports aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that students should miss out on the fun of social team sports. Most teams don’t typically require tryouts and in some cases, if the program is large enough, players will be assigned a team based on their skill level. Even better, with your busy academic schedule, teams don’t require practices and games are played just for fun. 

You were definitely doing cool, before it was cool. Find a university that reflects what you're all about.

Defined by mason jars, skinny jeans, flat brims, and organic fair trade espresso--the Hipster has taken center stage. Thick-rimmed glasses with deep cultural insights are finding a revival community that becomes a lifestyle.

Get out your walking shoes, because we have some serious ground to cover. 

Not many colleges can boast owning land as far as the eye can see. 

But with more acres comes more space in the great outdoors. 

If an expansive campus is your thing, Collegexpress.com has compiled a list of the top 100 colleges with the most acres for your exploration.

Here are the Top Five:

Be the best frosh you can be.

Freshman year can be one of the most exciting years of your life.

You might be moving to a new city, state or country all together. Either way you will be making new friends and learning a lot about yourself. Here are some tips on how to handle some of the biggest question marks you might run into during your freshman year:

If you're not sure there's a Greek community out there for you, think again.

There is certainly a stigma associated with sororities and fraternities, which are often thought of as the stomping grounds for mean girls and fratastic bros. But in most cases, that perception is far from the truth, especially with these groups.

The LGBT sororities, fraternities--and even frarorities--listed below are all about support and acceptance and can make a huge impact on making your college experience something special.

You'll never want to leave your room if you're heading to one of these schools.

When you're first heading to college, you're probably somewhere between the excitement of moving away from home and the realization of that you’re most likely going to be residing in a cold, boring cinder-block dorm room—with a twin-sized cot. Perfect. 

Sure your dream school has a website, but does it have an app?

If you're freshman, the last thing you want to do is skulk around campus with a printed-out map. Yes, you can probably find it on the website, but if your school's site is not mobile friendly, you could feel like you're trying to navigate through a school for ants.

Professors can make or break your courses - save yourself some stress and tears by selecting professors that fit your learning style best.

They can inspire you to love a subject. They can be cruelly monotone. They can empower you to reflect their passions. They can be so off-topic that you aren't unsure what the title of the course is anymore. They can be the reason you decide to change your major.

Professors are a defining part of a course experience that can not be overlooked.

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