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The Campus Tour

Posted by on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 in Visiting Vanderbilt.

If you attended one of our Road Show events this past week you know we highly encourage a campus visit to follow.  There’s simply no replacement for standing in the middle of Alumni Lawn, hearing music resonate from the sky, and knowing this is where you want to spend the next chapter of your life.  I happen to believe, though, that you’re approach to these experiences is just as important as undertaking them at all.

Keep a notebook handy, but drag and delete the spreadsheet.  I know you want to weigh the pros and cons so that your final decisions is a supremely rational, logical, and intellectual one.  However, what matters most on the campus visit/tour is how you feel.  No need to follow your tour guide around as you you’re a stenographer, but at the conclusion of the day when you jump back in the car or board the plane, take out a composition book and do some free writing.   Write words that come to mind, list the parts of the day you found yourself most excited and times when you may have been hesitant.  Whatever it is that comes to mind in the immediate aftermath, write it down.  I know you think you’ll remember the day, especially if you fell in love with the campus, but as the college application process moves forward, anxiety may slowly replace the real way you felt on that specific day.  If you write down important words, thoughts, and feelings you can review these notes at a crossroad in the process.

Ask questions of everyone.  You’re decisions down the road will be harder if you feel like there are gaps in your knowledge.  Most importantly, ask your tour guide and other current students about the student life experience.  Once you’re applied and received acceptance to a college you’ll feel as if you have enough knowledge about the basics and you’ll really focus in on the student experience as a decisive factor.   In these moments you’ll wish you had asked more questions.  Online discussion boards are a poor replacement for asking a live person.  After you talk to your tour guide, go to the student dining facilities and talk to students there as well.  Get a round perspective and remember no two students are alike.

Ask mom and dad to hold their thoughts until the end of the day.  Absolutely they should be apart of the larger discussion, but in the moment you need to form your immediate thoughts and reactions first.   How else would you be able to separate what you want from what your parents want?  Tell them that you want to just enjoy the day and not talk about it until the car ride home, it could make for a really interesting conversation on the drive back if everyone has a different perspective at the end.  Similarly, ask mom and dad to take hold their questions of the admissions office and tour guides.  YOU need to ask the questions.  I am surprised by how many students let their mom and dad act as their mouthpiece, that behavior isn’t going to fly in the college classroom so why act that way now?  Step up – this is your life, act like it.

Walk around campus open to the possibilities and revel in the moment.  A campus tour should be fun even if you decide the college isn’t a good fit for your.  It should also be a good time with your parents, enjoy the last you have at home, don’t spend it fighting.

Vanderbilt offers many ways to experience our campus.  Explore!

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