College Tours are Becoming More Strategic


Kelsey Deering

Photo Illustration by Kelsey Deering.

Elisabeth Oster, Editor-in-Chief

  54 percent of 152 Wayzata High School seniors have currently gone on one to three college tours according to a college survey conducted by the Trojan Tribune.
  “I think that people are are touring more schools and people are visiting schools more than once. We have a lot of different types of tours, we have some families that do the same visit or a specialized visit,” said Iowa State University Assistant Director of Campus Visits Kristin B. Chapman. “Others just came with one parent and they want to take another family member—it definitely depends on the individual.” 
  Colleges often use various techniques to make their particular school stand out, especially during tours, according to Chapman. Iowa State University puts an emphasis on providing an individual academic appointment for each visitor as well as offering specialized visits.
  According to University of Minnesota Twin Cities Visit Program Coordinator Devan Kelly, the University of Minnesota also views visits for specific colleges a unique part of their college tour experience.
  Eckerd College, located on the waterfront, offers boat rides on Boca Ciega Bay during visiting student sessions.
  “It’s one of the unique features of our campus and it’s very much a part of our campus life. Students use out waterfront office all of the time for water sports and activities,” said Eckerd College Director of Media and Public Relations Robbyn Hopewell. “So doing a boat tour of our campus is pretty natural—it’s a part of the way the campus operates.”
  According to Hopewell, they have received a very positive response from prospective students.
  The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) provides distinctive experiences through specialized tours of campus features such as their main library and botanical garden, according to a UCLA undergraduate tour guide representative. UCLA also provides specific “Cub Tours” for those in the grade levels kindergarten to eighth grade to spark interest in college early.
  A growing concern has been expressed on whether demonstrated interest, students interacting with colleges through college visits and meetings, impact application consideration, according to Chapman. This has raised concerns as college tours require expenses such as travelling and hotel accommodations.
  However, most colleges assert that tours are purely to create interest in the college and provide prospective student with information. As stated by Kelly, University of Minnesota does not consider demonstrated interested but uses a holistic process based on academic scores and preparation, recognizing that prospective students may not have the resources to tour.
  “Student success and preparedness to succeed in their university classes are our priorities,” said Kelly.
  If anything, participating in tours allows colleges to know what individuals are interested and to focus advertising on these individuals, according to Chapman.
  “We definitely keep track of who tours and visits, our recruiters who are out in the field knows who has visited the territory,” said Chapman. “If someone visits, we do realizes that they are probably more interested than someone who doesn’t—it’s an important factor in whether they will enroll or not.”
  In order to provide other options for students to get a feel for the campus, colleges have begun offering interactive virtual tours. According to Hopewell, the introduction of virtual tours has prompted more students to tour the campus in person. But ultimately, Hopewell said, “The best advertisement we have for bringing students here is when they actually step foot on the campus and see all that we have to offer.”