It's that time year again—the arrival of the long-awaited warm spring weather and college acceptance letters. This also marks the beginning of the marathon of college campus visits with mom and dad. With prospective students and their families filling their spring breaks with one or more college visits per day, it can be difficult to keep all of the facts about the different college campuses straight. U.S. News spoke with five college tour guides, from private and public schools in cities and suburbs across the country, to find the important questions you should ask in order to learn the most about each school on your campus tour itinerary.
Common Questions You Should Always Ask
1. Ask what the transition is like from high school to college.
"A lot of people ask about the adjustment from high school to college," says Tava Bingham, a tour guide and senior at the University of Texas—Austin, one of the nation's largest public schools. The visitors ask about making friends and selecting classes, and the tour guides tell them about their personal experiences, she says. Bingham reminds potential students on the tours that there is little to be anxious about because everyone is sharing the same new experience when they come to school as freshmen. "As long as you come with an open mind, it's going to be easy to make friends and get adjusted," she says. As for tips on adjusting to classes, she says it's all about time management. "Students will have to take initiative to make sure that they're staying on top of assignments and on top of their readings," she says.
2. Ask about the food, residence halls, and class sizes.
Sean Crossley, a tour guide and junior at Albright College, a small liberal arts college in Reading, Pa., says he always tells families what his campus life experiences are truly like. "We really aren't censored as tour guides; our job is to give our honest experience at Albright," he says. He claims he gets asked about his views of the food on campus, what it's like staying in a residence hall, and the size of his classes, and he always gives honest answers to the questions.
3. Ask about campus safety.
All of the tour guides recommended that prospective students and parents ask about the school's campus safety policies. "I appreciate it when parents and students ask about campus safety," says Katie Rice, a campus walk guide and senior at Hendrix College, a small liberal arts college in Conway, Ark. "Hendrix is a very safe campus, but it's always nice for me to know that people are thinking about that."
4. Ask whether the campus has wireless Internet access.
This is a typical question that all five tour guides said they get asked on almost every tour. Almost all colleges today have access to high-speed wireless Internet on their campuses.
Questions You Should Ask, but Sometimes Don't
1. Ask about the tour guide's personal experience at the school.
"I wished people asked, 'What have you done in your four years here?' to get that personal touch on the tour," Rice says. When giving a campus tour, she says she focuses on telling the prospective students and families about the college, but would speak more to her own experiences if people asked her.
2. Ask why the tour guide chose the school.
Morgan Williams, a tour guide and senior at Spelman College, a historically black college for women located in Atlanta, says she enjoys sharing why she chose to attend Spelman. "My Spelman experience was very empowering and impactful, and I want to share that with prospective students," she says. "Every year, when I come back to school, I see at least one student on campus who I had on a tour and I know my story was able to inspire them and bring to them to campus."
Whitney Knight, a fellow tour guide and senior at Spelman, says she has a love for Spelman that runs in her family. "I've been the ultimate Spelman advocate since I was a kid because my mom is an alumna," she says. "I love to encourage other women to choose Spelman."