One of the best ways to determine if a school is a good fit for a student is to take a campus tour. You have to see the campus to know if you get ‘that feeling’ that everyone talks about when you’ve found ‘your school’ or if you could NEVER imagine yourself as a student on that campus. There are so many elements that comprise a student’s view of that university, and ultimately that perception can make or break a student’s decision to apply. As a tour guide, it’s my job to make sure you as visitors get the answers to all your questions and to share what makes Catholic University stand out for me as a student.
As a student ambassador, someone who meets prospective students and families every day, let me share a few tips on how to make the most of your campus tour this summer.
- Go exploring!–Most colleges and universities host students that choose to stay over the summer to intern in the area or to do research–Catholic University is the same! We have quite a few students around in the summer but there are certainly much fewer students than during the school year. This means less foot traffic and seeing buildings in full-blown action (like the Pryzbyla Student Center) is less likely. While campus isn’t bustling with students, take the time to really check out the neighborhood the campus is in, the gym, a classroom, the residence halls, and the student center.
- Meet anyone and everyone–If you know what you are interested in majoring in (or are deciding between two majors), you can ask about potentially meeting with a student in that program or a professor from that School. If you can’t meet while you’re on campus, speaking by e-mail is a great way to find out about internships and research students in that specific major are focusing on currently. Reach out a week or so in advance for a meeting while you’re on campus!
- Eat like a Cardinal–Learning about dining options and where you will be eating is an important component to the college tour. On your tour at Catholic we will be seeing the dining options here on campus in the Pryzbyla Center, which is our student center. There are two dining options at Catholic: the student restaurant (our traditional dining hall) as well as our Food Court (where our Subway and Chik-Fil-A are located). The discussion will revolve around the meal plans as well as where and how to use each of the two dining options. Try the food here on campus if possible or ask about local restaurants not on our campus which students like to go to, for example the Brookland Pint, Busboys and Poets, and Menomale. Rest assured, though, Catholic has great dining hours so you can always grab a late night snack after studying!
- Picture yourself here–Aside from academics and amenities, comfort level is important in your college decision. If you do not think you would fit on that college campus, then you’re less likely to consider the university when it comes decision time. Picture as best as you can the events being described to you by your tour guides to see if it is an event which interests you. Student clubs (which Catholic has around one hundred) are a great way to get involved on campus and meet new friends. Whether it’s trying something new or sticking with what you already know, ask your tour guide to talk about the organizations on campus.
- Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to take notes–While on tours, students and their families are sometimes hesitant to ask questions. Don’t be nervous–every question is a good one, and all tour guides can give you answers since we’re all students here or direct you to the right point of contact! Plus, the average number of campuses students visit is really high, so you want to make sure that you’re able to remember aspects you liked about each college. Some of the most common questions students and their families should ask but don’t are:
- How often are teaching assistants used in courses?
- What work study programs are available throughout campus?
- What is the school’s freshman retention rate?
- Do a lot of students like to go home on the weekends?
- What opportunities are there for students who stay on campus during the weekend to do?
In my college search experience, I toured universities over the summer and then visited the universities I liked and was accepted to a second time before I ultimately made my decision. If you visit in the summer, try to revisit at least one time during the fall or spring before making your college decision–that way, you can gain a perspective of the university when things are in full-swing.
I hope that this helps you in your college search, and best of luck in your college search!