When trying to decide
which university is right for you, one of the best things you can do is book a campus visit. A campus visit can include many features like academic advising or a visit to the residence at the university, but one of the more important highlights is a campus tour. There are two advantages that result from taking a campus tour – one is actually seeing the physical campus and the other is the knowledge that comes from the person who is giving you the tour.
Trying it Out
Campus tours are beneficial in that they are one of the best ways to “try out” a university and see whether or not you can actually envision yourself there for 4+ years as you complete a degree or two. While universities in Canada are all fantastic, none of them are replicas of each other. Each university has its own unique atmosphere and “feel” which can either make a student feel right at home, or totally off balance. Some of that off-balance sensation comes from being uprooted from your much smaller high school and being plopped into a much larger venue in which to pursue your education, sometimes leaving behind the support network you’ve come to know and love. Other times, the university you choose is the reason itself for you feeling secure/insecure.
Still not convinced? Picture this for me:
You’re walking to class, with all the time in the world, and pause to enjoy the beauty of the old brick buildings that house your classes. You feel at peace, because this is exactly how you imagined your university experience would take place.
You’re walking to class, with all the time in the world, and marvel at the modern architecture of the buildings that house your classes. The pedways and underground tunnel system are your saviors on a cold winter’s day as they minimize the time you need to spend exposed to the elements.
Two very different descriptions – which sounds more like it suits you? Or do both sound equally appealing? A campus tour gives you an opportunity to get a sense of whether the physical campus itself will feel like home to you or not, which can radically influence your university experience.
A Current Perspective
At the University of Alberta, current students act as ambassadors and give campus tours. This is a plus for prospective students, as who better to tell you what it’s like to go to school at that university than someone who is actually experiencing it? Academic advisors are experts in their areas and great resources of information, but there is no better informer of the student experience than current students themselves. This is also an opportunity to get a little advice on how to bridge the gap from high school to university by someone who’s walked the path before.
A current student giving the tour who is from the same field you’re interested in? BONUS! They’ll be able to provide some insight into the specifics of student life in that faculty/department.
A current student giving the tour who is from a different field than you’re interested in? DIFFERENT KIND OF BONUS! They may open your eyes to aspects of the university that you had never considered or heard of before.
Regardless of whether you’re considering a university far away from or close to home, these ambassadors are valuable sources of information!