What To Expect On A College Tour

As April draws near, high school seniors across the country are gearing up for their college campus tours. After spending months writing their admissions essays, perfecting their applications, and anxiously awaiting their acceptance letters, these prospective students are ready to see what college life will really be like.

Having spent several summer and spring vacations visiting prospective campuses, I can tell you first hand how important a college tour can be to your academic future. Although a college seems perfect on paper, you can't know if it's "the one" without walking through the hallowed halls and grassy quad. Because even though class sizes and course selections are an important factor when choosing a college, how you physically feel on campus plays an important part in the decision as well.

That being said, you should take your college tours with a grain of salt. Thanks to TV shows and movies (I'm looking at you Legally Blonde), we have a very distorted view of what college campuses are supposed to look like. We envision ivory-covered towers, decked out dorm rooms, and smiling students. But the reality is absolutely nothing like the picture we've painted. Before setting out on your series of college tours, take a moment to consider what the experience will actually be like. We have a feeling you'll thank us for our honesty.

The Tour Guide

Expectation: He's essentially the school mascot, minus the costume of course. As he shows you and your group around campus, he has a smile on his face and a pep in his step. His enthusiasm for the school makes you want to send in your deposit ASAP.

Reality: He begrudgingly answers your questions while answering texts from his frat bros. You're not sure why the school chose him to represent he student body, but if he's the most enthusiastic of the bunch, then you have some serious thinking to do.

Your Parents

Expectation: They remain calm, cool, and collected as you sit through the admission councilor's presentation. When it's time to take the grand tour, they move to the back of the line and watch quietly as you take in the school's sites.

Reality: Are you sure they aren't the ones applying to college? Their arms are permanently set in the upright position so they can ask a laundry list of questions. You try to stay clear of them during the tour, but they manage to find you and take hold of your hands so as not to lose you again.

The Students

Expectation: The quad resembles a park rather than a part of campus. If the students aren't tossing a frisbee around or serenading each other on a guitar, then they are happily reading from their textbooks while simultaneously working on their tans.

Reality: Your walk through the quad feels more like that antelope stampede from The Lion King, only way less pleasant. As students sprint between buildings, they shout obscenities and scream about the stresses that college has thrusted upon them. You start to wonder if a degree is really worth all the anxiety.

The Grub

Expectation: The cafeteria feels more like a food court. Not only is each station stacked with plenty of options, but they actually look appetizing. You can’t wait to dive into the delicious dining hall cuisine.

Reality: You heard dining hall food was horrible, but you didn't think it could be this terrible. The pasta is mushy, the vegetables are limp, and the meat is unidentifiable. On the bright side, you'll probably avoid the Freshmen 15 if you have to eat here every day.

The Dorm Room

Expectation: Talk about a five-star suite. Even with two sets of furniture, you and your roomie could bring in a couch and still have space to practice yoga together (because that's obviously what roommates do). Everything from the color of the walls to the cozy rug makes you feel at home.

Reality: You seem to have taken an unexpected detour to the Litchfield County Jail. The tile floors and faux-brick walls make the room feel dreary and dark (not to mention cold). You think of adding a throw rug to liven things up, but quickly realize it won't fit in this 4x4 cell... I mean, room.

The Classes

Expectation: You see a lecture hall filled with enthusiastic students who are eager to learn. When they aren't ferociously scribbling down notes, they are discussing (or, more accurately, debating) the topic with their equally passionate professor.

Reality: Apparently colleges also have study halls. At least, that's what this class makes you think. As a professor drones on about a seemingly boring subject, the students are taking the opportunity to catch up on their sleep. Well, either that or they are learning through osmosis.

Images: Universal Pictures; Wiffle Gif (14)