Outside-Only College Tours Are Ineffective


Courtesy of AP Images

Potential college students tour the University of Indiana.

Jaelyn Hudson, A+E Editor

With many COVID restrictions still in place, college tours are taking a new form. Virtual tours gained popularity at the start of the pandemic, but now many universities are attempting to reopen on-campus walkthroughs. However, the depth these tours are able to cover depends on the school. 

According to their website, Loyola University of Chicago allows students to take a full tour, including walking into university halls. But they require all guests to be vaccinated and wear masks inside. 

Other schools, like Northwestern University, do not allow guests to tour inside at all. 

Virtual and on-campus tours that do not allow prospective students inside university buildings are not effective representations of the school environment and make it more difficult to form opinions on the quality of the campus. 

According to the website Niche, the key aspects of a campus that one should consider before applying are the dorms, food options and on-campus facilities. 

Though a tour can discuss these without going inside, it cannot demonstrate the full-scale of the resources available. Students have less information to decide if the quality of dining halls, libraries and other facilities are worthwhile and beneficial, which becomes an issue when they are going to live with their choice for the next four years.   

“Walking around the campus can give you a feel for what college is really like,” an article from the College Board said. “Student newspapers and activity calendars give you a sense of what campus life is really like. Check out bulletin boards to see what bands are coming to the campus, what parties are advertised, what internships are posted and generally what the day-to-day energy of the place is.” 

The smaller elements of the campus, like posters and advertisements, demonstrate student life as well as the quality of campus. Without the inside component of college tours, this information can be easily missed, and a vital fact about the campus may be overlooked.

Although it can be difficult to schedule tours around the health restrictions still in place, it is important to provide prospective students with as much information about the college as possible.

Schools can require masks and vaccinations, practice social distancing and expect visitors to evaluate their health before attending a tour, which can greatly lessen the possibility of a breakout. And simple requirements like these are enough to make a safer environment for students to tour colleges.

But it is important to give students insight into the reality of college living.