College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?

College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?

College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?

College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?

One of the most important parts of choosing a college is taking a college tours. You wouldn’t buy a house without touring it, or a car without driving it. You definitely don’t want to send your young person away for 4 years (spending tens of  thousands of dollars while you’re at it) without knowing what that institution is REALLY like.
Having helped hundreds of homeschool high schoolers and their parents conduct the college search, I’ve accumulated a few tips that can help:

Before the tour, you can find on the college website:

  • Tuition, room and board costs
  • SAT or ACT, GPA and course requirements for entry
  • Average SAT or ACT of past incoming freshmen classes (so your teens know who they are competing with- image if your teen is accepted with a 1250 SAT but the average in her class is 1350- she may start out her college career already struggling in the courses that are curved)
  • College distinctives (what makes this school stand out)
  • Does the college have your student’s preferred major and type of degree?
  • Potential scholarships and grants (you will also find out more on the tour)
College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?
Click here for episode on choosing college degrees.

Things to look for:

  • Are the campus bookstore’s first and largest display of non-textbook items shot glasses? (If so, party school may be the cultural emphasis.)
  • Are the campus grounds, dorms and classrooms basically clean? (Ill-kempt campus has some problems.)
  • Does the furniture in dorms look sturdy enough? (You don’t want 50 year-old bunks collapsing on your kid.)
  • Are teachers and/or staff available to talk with one-on-one? (It shows an attitude of valuing people over numbers.)
  • Nearby off-campus: Is the campus set away from the nearest community? Is it in a *college-town* with nearby businesses and restaurants geared toward students? Is it an urban setting with transportation close by?
College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?
Click here to read about starting the college search.

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • At a Christian college:
    • What is the school’s theological stance on issues that matter greatly to you?
    • Does the school tolerate various theological ideas?
    • Do the teachers have *academic freedom*? (In other words, do they have the freedom to teach ideas that are contrary to the school’s theological positions?)

College tour questions to ask on any college tour (Christian, private or state college):

  • What percentage of their faculty is adjunct? (Adjunct faculty have no offices – thus no office hours, are paid poorly – so often have second jobs to pay the bills, so are less available to the students)
  • Do faculty have office hours?
  • What is the advisement process? (Are their trained advisors or faculty who know what they are doing?)
  • Please give the percentage of their students who start as freshmen and stay until graduation.
    • Do those students graduate in 4 years?
  • What percentage of undergraduates are accepted to graduate schools? (For majors that require grad school)
  • Please give the employment rate of graduates?
  • What is the college safety record?
  • Where do you find information about the average class size for freshman and sophomore courses?
  • What is does student engagement look like? What campus-life organizations are available?
  • Is there good tech support? Are there technology requirements for the students?
  • What are meal plans like? What are the options for places to eat? Is the food any good?
  • Ask a student who is leading tours (or just passing by, or in the cafeteria/food court):
    • What do you like at this school?
    • Tell me what irritates you at this school?
    • Would you recommend this college to a friend or relative?
  • How can you go about finding scholarships at this college?

Questions to ask about what the college is looking for

  • What is the college looking for in incoming freshman?
    • Are there certain levels of academic rigor they want to see on the transcript?
    • Do they care if integrated courses (sometimes Math or English/Language Arts) state on the transcript:
      • Integrated (Math or ELA) I, II, III, IV
      • OR break the courses down to specifically show topics covered (Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-calculus; American Literature, British Literature, World Literature, Other specific literatures)
    • What kinds (or amount) of extracurriculars or volunteerism or service are they looking for?
College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask? college applications
Click here to find out how to plan ahead on college applications.
It can feel overwhelming but give it a try. It will pay off in the end with a better chance at a good-fit college for your homeschool graduate.

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College Tours: What to Look for? What Questions to Ask?


Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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