The Importance of Taking College Tours

Gavin’s college trip to University of Utah

Gavin McMickin, Reporter

As high school seniors move toward the end of the year, most have a big decision to make in where they go to college and continue their academics. Although students can do some research online about schools they are interested in, tours can be the ultimate tool in deciding the best place to land after high school.  

Planning a college tour can be hard and there is the question if going on the tour is truly worth it. 

Novato High College and Career Counselor Laura Pretl understands the value of on-site college tours.

Although, these days you can and should obtain as much information as possible through virtual tours and attending information sessions during your college search, there is really no substitute for an in-person college tour,” she said. “You get a much more nuanced feel for the campus and the students who attend the college when you visit in person.” 

Prior to going on a college tour, students should come up with a list of things they want their next school to have. It’s important to apply those things to the tour in order to see if that college is the right fit. 

Novato High senior Will Carlson talked about how a college tour helped him with his decision.

“At the schools I visited, I was able to take tours of the business schools and that allowed me to see classrooms and just the day-to-day of the students that attend that school,” he said. 

Seeing classrooms and seeing the environment surrounding the college students helps you picture yourself in their position. That’s an important factor for deciding if you like it or not. 

Novato High senior Chris Perazzo recently decided to continue his academic career at Chapman University and shared his experience of choosing Chapman.

“In my case, I was deciding between Chapman and UCLA as my top choice so I visited them both. At least in my situation, taking the tours helped me realize that I probably wouldn’t do great on a big campus because I was super overwhelmed while on my tour. The facilities were cool, but not exactly what I was looking for as a visual effects major. Then when I toured Chapman, I got engrossed into the film facilities and the town and the surrounding area. My trip helped me decide between the two and helped alleviate a lot of the stress,” he said.

Originally, I didn’t think an in-person tour could make such a big difference. Most of the schools I visited weren’t what I expected. That proved to be both a good and bad thing. Some schools were better than I thought and others were worse. It helped me narrow down my list. For example, I didn’t realize Washington State was in a town where more than half the population is students (Pullman). Also, I didn’t know that the surrounding area is miles of wheat fields. This helped me get the school off my list. 

It’s also helpful to experience the surrounding area of a college and figure out what there is to do outside of school. Seeing life beyond a campus can give people a feel for what they can do beyond the classroom. For my trip to the University of Utah, I got a feel for the flow of the town and it felt like home to me. Sometimes my college trips were outstanding, other times I was disappointed.

Whenever applying to college, students should do their best to get an in-person tour as it may give them an instant green light on where they want to continue their academics.