Are college tours worth it?


Photo courtesy of Kate Fuller

Junior Kate Fuller stands with UCLA’s bruin mascot during a tour of the school. Fuller had never been to California yet was interested in schools there. By touring schools such as UCLA she was able to decide if she could see herself in California.

As the end of the year approaches, juniors begin to prepare for their upcoming senior year and years after. For most, this includes taking the SAT, maintaining good grades and researching potential schools and touring schools.

College tours are recommended by counselors and peers to get a better feel for a place that will become a second home for around four years. However, with online resources becoming more prevalent, campus tours are becoming somewhat obsolete.

Through websites, videos and social media, prospective students can get insight on the school without having to travel to the campus. In addition to statistics and descriptions online, many college websites provide free virtual tours for those unable to see the campus in person. With so much information readily available online, prospective students may wonder: is it worth it to travel to tour a possible school?

Schools offer different options, some offer self guided in person tours or tours with tour guides, other schools offer a virtual option. Self guided tours tend to be more readily available and quicker, while guided tours fill up quickly for popular schools and are more lengthy.

Junior Kate Fuller has started her search and toured four schools so far, all with a guide. She has experienced both beneficial and unhelpful tours.

“I didn’t like the tours when the guides talked a lot about academics because I can find that online, I’d rather see student life and things I couldn’t find on the website,” Fuller said.

Another element that can affect the outcome of a guided tour is the tour guide. Factors that could make a tour guide notable are their personality, knowledge of the school and relatability.

“If I could relate to the tour guide it made the tour better, and the school more appealing because then I know that I can fit into the school,” Fuller said.

In addition to the personality and knowledge of a guide comes their reliability. Tours are put in place to promote a school and push people to apply. In most tours the guides will show off the highlights of the school, rather than the unappealing parts of the school that could deter a prospective student.

“College tours are useless, they are just trying to promote the school rather than showing the reality,” junior Anjali Bharghava said.

Though college tours have notable flaws, overall a great majority of students enjoy getting to see what life on a college campus is like. In addition to the campus itself, tours give great insight on the location, weather and student life of the school, which are all important parts of a college experience.

“I found all the college tours I went on to be very helpful and I don’t think I would be able to go to a school without first touring it,” junior Ali Elgin said.