When I was a high school student, I absolutely loved going on college tours. Blame it on the designer on me, but my favorite part of the tour was always seeing how the buildings across campus were laid out, the interior design and architecture of the classrooms and residence halls, and what environmental initiatives the campus was undertaking and how they were integrated into the campus itself. On my multiple campus tours, I loved looking for these different things on each one, so it became a bit of a scavenger hunt for me. Which campuses had these things, and which did not?
Because of this “scavenger hunt” that I played while on campus tours, I feel as if it gave me a great way to know the campus, and thereby rated it over trying to memorize long lists of questions I should ask. That’s why I’ve created a scavenger hunt of the top 10 things all students should look for on a campus tour. These are all important, so be sure to keep a sharp eye out for them and whether they’re available at your future school!
1. An On-Campus Medical Center
I’m going to be completely honest: when I was going on campus tours, a medical center wasn’t something that I even considered looking for. I rarely ever got sick, and each time it was just a small cold that went away after a day or two, so I didn’t consider having a medical center on my college campus very necessary.
I was so, so wrong.
In my second semester of college, I came down with a bad case of the flu. In less than nine hours, I went from feeling great to feeling as if someone had rubbed my throat raw with sandpaper and being confined to my bed. Later on that semester, I got sick with a bad cold that lasted for a few days. Considering that my first aid kit only contained a few band-aids and some ibuprofen, I guess you could say that I wasn’t prepared.
I was extremely lucky that my campus had a medical center that I could go to for free, and could even prescribe me prescriptions. Because I didn’t have a car to get to a doctor’s office and lived almost 4 hours away from home, I couldn’t imagine what I would have done without my campus’ medical center.
That being said, an on-campus medical center should be on your list of must-haves when it comes to your future college; you never know how much you may need it later on. Once you find it on the tour, ask about its hours, if there is someone available on-call during closed hours, what they can treat, etc.
2. Emergency Call Boxes
Having a quick way to get in touch with an on-campus emergency official is extremely important, and that’s what emergency call boxes are for. With the simple press of a button, the student is immediately connected with an emergency official, which is great if there is an emergency situation nearby or if you feel unsafe and need assistance.
For this part of the scavenger hunt, try and count how many times you see an emergency call box on campus. Depending on your own personal preferences and the campus environment, you may want there to be more of these available. For example, on one campus tour I went on, you could always see a call box nearby, no matter where you were on campus. On other campuses, however, they were more dispersed.
3. Student Patrol
Another great service that some colleges offer is student patrol, where a fellow student can walk or drive you back to your dorm, vehicle, or home at night. (The specific services offered vary between campuses.) This service helps maintain a safe campus environment, and allow the students to know that they will safely arrive wherever they need to go.
While this won’t be something that you spot on campus, it’s definitely something you should add to your scavenger hunt to ask your campus guide about.
4. Dining Centers on Campus
Many students are concerned about the quality of food on campus, but I think it is just as important to be concerned about the availability of dining centers on campus. Some campuses may have plenty of places to eat at, while others may only have a handful. Additionally, it’s possible that some dining locations may only take a certain type of food plan transaction (such as meal swipes versus flex dollars), which means that you may have to walk to a certain location to get food, which can get pretty annoying if it’s all the way across campus.
On your scavenger hunt, be sure to ask your campus tour guide about this whenever you see a dining location, along with how close the dining centers are to the dorms.
5. Quality of On-Campus Food
For this part of the scavenger hunt, you will want to eat at one of the dining locations; I recommend doing this after the campus tour, if possible, because they may provide you with a free or discounted meal coupon in your information packet.
While food quality may not sound like a huge deal to some people, I actually found that it was pretty significant. Whether it’s great or terrible, you want to know what to expect so that you can budget enough money for any grocery trips.
Additionally, you may have certain dietary needs that may need to be addressed. Whether it’s gluten-free, allergen free, vegetarian, vegan, or something else, make sure that you will have several different options to choose from each day that fit your needs, not just one. Offering food for a dietary need and having it be something that you actually like are two different things that need to be addressed and discussed on your campus tour.
6. Availability of Parking
Parking is another important part of the scavenger hunt. When you are on your tour, you will probably pass some student parking lots, whether they be at the dorms, a commuter parking lot, a freshman parking lot, or something else . Ask your campus guide to see if there plenty of parking spaces available, if they’re close to the dorms or classes, and if parking is hard to get.
7. Transportation Options
Like I said before, I didn’t have a car my freshman year, which means that I was relying on other methods to get around town when I needed to. For this part of the scavenger hunt, look for some other transportation options that may be for you. Are there bus stops that could take you to a grocery store or other places around town? Do you see taxis going by? Are there sidewalks or a bike lane that go into town? If you don’t see any, be sure to ask!
8. On-Campus Housing
On any college tour, you’re bound to be shown a dorm room, which may be one used just for display or it may be one that students actually used. For the scavenger hunt, check out both the display room (if available) AND a real dorm room. I talk about the differences between them in this post, and no matter what the tour guide says, the rooms could be dramatically different.
In addition, you may wish to look for themed housing on your scavenger hunt, such as honors students housing, wellness housing, major-specific housing, and more. I’ve lived in themed housing before and I loved the experience; it gave all of the students something in common and gave us something to bond over.
9. The Surrounding Community
On your way to or from your college tour, be sure to check out the surrounding community! Look for the availability of stores, restaurants and cafes, and other fun places that you can hang out with your friends. It’s also a good idea to see whether there are local job opportunities for internships or post-grad work. If you’re going to be spending several years in the area, make sure that it’s somewhere you like and feel comfortable living in!
10. Offices for Additional Opportunities
The more opportunities that you have and are willing to take advantage of during college, the more likely you are to succeed. That’s why, for this part of the scavenger hunt, you need to both look for them and ask about them. Is there a writing center? A study abroad office? A career center? A research lab? Whatever your goals are, if there are places on-campus that can help you accomplish them!
That’s a wrap for this scavenger hunt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add to your own! I’ve created a printable for you that summarizes everything that we just went over, and includes a note section to take notes and write questions! Just click here to download it, or click on the image of the printable below!
If you want to see anything added to this list or if you have any questions about it, be sure to comment down below or email me at email@example.com. Have a great campus tour!