Should College Tour Opinions Guide List Creation?


You've created your college list and planned out a calendar of when you plan to visit each one. But here is a scenario that you might not have considered: What if you're on a college tour and you just have a feeling it isn't the right place for you? And what if this happens on more than one college tour?

Well, this shows why college tours are so important. You can research colleges all day long online or discuss them with your counselor or friends, but there is nothing like stepping your own two feet on a college campus. Once you are there, you either can imagine yourself as a student on that campus or not.

However, if there is just one thing about the campus you discover on a college tour that you don't like, it doesn't mean you necessarily would dislike the entire college experience there.

“Usually a college is on someone's list for a reason — if the student tours and 'doesn't like' the school, there must be something specific that is overriding the positives," says Elizabeth H. Wiltshire, founder of Wiltshire College Consulting. “I would challenge the student to tease out what aspects he or she doesn't like, and use that information to add some more options to the list."

Evaluate the Reason

Therefore, you should try to figure out exactly what you did not like on the college tour. Was it just one aspect of the college, were there multiple features you did not like or was it an overall general feeling of “I don't think I would like being a student here."

In some cases, it is one particular thing that you don't like about the college — not necessarily the entire college itself.

“Developing a college list is an iterative process," notes Wilshire. “After touring some X schools — not liking them — and then touring some Not X schools, the student may conclude that X isn't really that important! The final choices could be based on some other factor entirely."

If it is one thing that is bothering you, that college still might be a contender for your list. If multiple aspects about the college bothered you on the tour, then it might not be the college for you, and you may want to take it off your list.

After touring a few colleges, you might consider making an appointment with your school counselor to discuss your feelings about the colleges. If you disliked many things about a college, you may not want to apply there after all. If you disliked many things at more than one college you toured, then you may need to consider reevaluating what you are looking for in a college experience and come up with new additions to your list -- and of course, schedule more college tours.

An in-person experience on a campus gives you a more authentic perspective of what a college is like and is a vital process of the college admission process. It can help you narrow down your list of colleges, and in some cases, if many college tours were not what you expected, then it may be time to reassess what you are looking for in a college or add more possible colleges to your list that have different characteristics.