Skip to main content

Making the Most of a Campus Visit

Hannah gives advice on how to get the most out of a campus visit, no matter where you are touring!

Hannah gives advice on how to get the most out of a campus visit, no matter where you are touring!

As school years are coming to an end, I know what you’re thinking. “I’m done with classes, so now is the perfect time to think about and visit colleges!” Okay, so maybe that’s not what you’re thinking. But if it is, I have some tips on how to have a helpful tour.

Visiting during the calendar school year can often give you a better perspective of what the average academic setting looks like. However, sometimes visiting in the summer is when it is most convenient. Whether your visit is online or in person, either is perfectly okay.

students on campus tour
Sign up for a campus tour at Carleton this summer!

Takes Notes

Now, you might hear “take notes” and think “Hannah, that sounds incredibly boring. The school year is over and now you’re asking me to do more work?” Yes, that is exactly what I think you should do. While it might seem like a hassle, when thinking about which college is which, sometimes the details blend together. As someone who did a lot of online tours, after a while a lot of them seemed the same and got mixed up in my head. Luckily, I had my notebook with all the fun facts and statistics from each visit. This helped to remind me of my experiences at the various schools.

I also found it useful to write what “vibes” each campus or online session gave me. This helped with my recall of the college (we do this in the field for my geology class to remember which rock formation location is which, so I’m pretty sure this is official science stuff). One of the main reasons I came to Carleton was because the campus just felt “right” to me. It was a feeling that was difficult to put into words, but it definitely influenced my college choice.

Bring Questions

If you have absolutely no idea what you want to study, that is perfectly fine! We don’t declare a major until spring term of sophomore year at Carleton. This means we have freedom to explore and learn in different disciplines before we commit to one. That being said, if there is a specific program you want to explore, make sure to ask about it! You wouldn’t want to go to a college just to find out that they don’t even have the major you are interested in.

Besides majors there are hundreds of other things you can ask about! Varsity sports, intramurals, clubs, student activities, professors, jobs after college, study abroad programs, the list is endless. I have found that while Carleton students are incredibly friendly and nice, they will also give you their honest opinion about what can be improved about Carleton. If you have a concern or a question, feel free to ask because you will receive a genuine answer.

Reach Out to Students & Professors

As I’ve already stated, Carls are known for being friendly! Feel free to talk to your tour guide about whatever you are curious about. If you have further questions you can always ask the admissions office for a student’s email. I was able to talk to multiple students before coming to Carleton, and it was a huge help to learn more about the environment and what other people on campus were like. (Tip: you can ask any of the blog writers a question by clicking on their name in their bio and their email will pop up).

If you are really into stalking the Carleton College website (I know I was) and you find a professor who is doing some really interesting research and you want to learn more, shoot them an email! Chances are they will be totally willing to respond. If you don’t know where to start, you can always ask the admissions office.

Attend a Class

This is a big one! Though you usually can’t attend a class over the summer because classes are not in session, try and sit in on a class if you can! During my Carleton online visit (I toured twice, one online and one in person), I attended an intermediate French class knowing absolutely NO French. Was it very confusing? Yes, but the professor was incredibly inclusive and I had an amazing time talking to all of the students. It helped me get a good idea of what a class was like at Carleton.

A professor stands in front of students during a class discussion
Sitting in on a class can be a really illuminating experience.

Eat (If You Can) and Check Out a Dorm

These may seem obvious, but you will likely be living and eating in the same place 9 months of the year for four years. Needless to say, that is a LOT of dining hall food. Honestly, the dining hall at Carleton isn’t anything special, but I always find something to eat, and that’s all that matters. There are so many other qualities that I found to be way more important than having the food be absolutely fantastic. I also know upperclassmen who live in campus housing and cook their own meals, so that is always an option down the road.

Ask About Traditions

A lot of colleges have some weird, fun, and unique traditions and events that are always fun to hear about. Some of ours include Schiller, the Freshman Frisbee Toss, Late Night Breakfast, and Sproncert (our Spring Concert). Check out a full list here.

Students dance during Spring Concert
Spring Concert is a beloved Carleton tradition.

Take It All With a Grain of Salt

One moment at a school (or online) is not going to encapsulate the entire college! I’m not going to lie, I’ve been on some tours where the tour guides were not great but I had to keep in mind that the entire student body was probably not exactly like that one bad tour guide (luckily my Carleton tour guides were awesome). Or, if you’re touring during the summer and the campus feels empty, it’s probably because classes aren’t in session. You just have to imagine what it would be like if all the students were there! Moral of the story, do your research on a college and don’t be afraid to give it another look if you weren’t sure of it the first time. You’ve got this. Good luck with the college search!

Hannah is a freshman interested in Political Science and learning as much as she can about whatever she can. Born and raised in Minnesota, she considers herself somewhat of an expert on MN winters. She can’t wait for ice skating on the Bald Spot and Nordic skiing in the Arb, along with exploring all of the other amazing opportunities and activities on campus! When Hannah isn’t in class, she can be found reading, running for the Carleton Track team, watching TikToks, and tutoring with the Northfield Read and Counts Program. Meet the other bloggers!