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Make the Most of Your Campus Visit

By Beth Anne Spacht

August 15, 2019

Guest Post by Austen Kelso, Assistant Director of Admission and former campus tour specialist

The end of summer is (almost) here. The time has come. You can now begin the final countdown to the start of the academic year – I know we have. We are excited to have students back on our campus with the palpable energy that they bring.

As you begin to trade your beach towel for a backpack, fall marks one of the best times to visit those campuses on your college list. Students are back, classes are in session, college cafes are serving up pumpkin-spiced everything, and campus will feel, well, exactly how it will feel when you are a student. And while we know how busy the fall can be for you, finding some time to sneak away to see schools will absolutely pay off.

So, when you are able to make it for a college visit (and we selfishly hope Richmond makes that list), here are three tips from a washed-up campus tour supervisor to maximize your time spent on campus.

1) Do more than the tour.

The campus tour is a great first glance at any college or university, but tours can’t cover it all. Many colleges also offer different visit options – from interviews to class visits, and maybe even overnight opportunities. I highly encourage you to also explore these options, especially if this isn’t your first visit to campus. These different visit experiences will often allow for more personalization and customization than the standard campus tour. My personal favorite is a class visit – at Richmond we call them Spiders in Session. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the shameless plug!

2) Ask questions – especially the right ones.

If you’ve been touring colleges, I’m sure you’ve had someone in your group who is not afraid to ask questions. Students – maybe you are related to that person. Parents – maybe that person is you. And sure, while you don’t want to overwhelm a tour guide with inquiries, never be embarrassed to ask those burning questions during your visit. Student ambassadors love receiving questions. Really, they do!

The key is asking the right questions. My advice? Don’t ask questions that you can easily find on the website. You can look those up before, after, or even during your tour (just don’t let your tour guide see you). Ask questions that target the student experience. For example, instead of asking, “What’s the average class size?”, ask the tour guide to talk about their biggest or smallest class. Or in place of asking about student-to-faculty ratio, ask them to speak about their favorite professor or a time that a faculty member made an impact on them. Questions like these will help you get below the surface and provide you with more meaningful answers.

3) Find a bench and people-watch.

Our goal is to keep you engaged with pertinent information, student stories, and application tips during your visit – and, of course, this information is important. However, after a couple of visits, some if this information may start to blur together or look the same. Let’s face it, most colleges and universities offer many similar resources. So, while visiting campuses, set aside some time to focus on the “feel.” Let your brain rest and your gut instinct take over.

Before or after your planned visit, leave some time to walk around campus. I advise finding a bench, sitting down, and watching people walk by. You will be amazed at how much you can learn about a school community just by watching. This is a really great way to get a feel for who the students are and how they interact.

And if you feel hungry after your tour – the dining hall is another great place for people watching. Food is important too, right?

Tags: Hot Topics Around Campus Why Richmond?

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Tom NicholasTom Nicholas
Associate Director of Admission 


A Richmond alumnus (Class of 2007), Tom has been working and blogging for the Office of Admission since he graduated. He loves his alma mater and the city that shares its name.

Learn more about Tom


Beth Anne SpachtBeth Anne Spacht
Senior Assistant Director of Admission


Beth Anne was a double major at Richmond (English and Latin American & Iberian Studies) and now enjoys helping prospective students discover the best of her alma mater.

Learn more about Beth Anne

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