Beware of the Risks of the College Tour: Focus on What Matters

College tours are not only important, they are critical. More critical than you think.

When you step on that college campus, the setting is beautiful, the students all seem very nice, and the admissions department people are extremely friendly.

However, no one is pointing out to you that if you decide to attend, the student debt you incur cannot be extinguished in a personal bankruptcy filing. The tour guide will tell you about student life on campus, but he won't tell you that if you that the average student takes more than four years to graduate. Campus housing will be a big subject of conversation, but no one will be telling you how many students who graduate from this school move back in with their parents because they can't afford rent. 

I don't intend to make you view your tour negatively, but I do want to make sure you understand the stakes and focus on what is critical to making a decision about a college.

Focus on the Product

There is no question college is an entire experience and passage in life. However, the core purpose, and the driving reason to attend a college or university, is learning.

Students learn, first and foremost, from professors. Professors spend their lives teaching students as well as preparing to teach students. Professors deliver the “product.” Your son or daughter’s ability to learn what is being taught by the professor is impacted first and foremost by the professor’s ability to engage the student to want to learn, coupled with your son or daughter’s commitment to absorbing and learning what the professor is teaching.  

Remember, this is the primary reason you are committing to a $200,000 investment.

With so much at stake, it is critical when planning a college tour, to remember why you are going, and what you want to accomplish when you are there.  

Planning Your College Tour

Start by asking yourself what your son or daughter is planning to study at this institution and making a point to understand who will be the key professors most likely to be teaching your son or daughter in their first year of college.

Advise the admissions department you would like to attend a class being taught by those professors and obtain a schedule. Planning your tour around this “class schedule” may make this a little more complicated and inconvenient. However, it is well worth the extra time if it means face-to-face time with the actual professors your students will be learning from. 

The admissions department will assist you in arranging this tour as well as supplementing your visit with the “general admission” tour so you still learn about the entire college experience at a specific college.  

What If Your Student Doesn't Know What to Study?

Contrary to popular belief, it is usually better for students to have a good idea of what they want to study before they set foot on campus. Yes, they may still change their mind, but having some sort of a direction will help them focus their efforts in a useful way. They will also learn much more about themselves in the process.

An easy place to start is by having your student take Majors Matcher.

This tool will help your student identify their natural strengths and interests and how those translate into college majors and potential careers.

If your student can't makeup their mind about which major they like best they can choose several and have a good idea of what areas to focus on when they begin college to find out which major they enjoy studying the best.