As fall tour season really gets going (speaking of don’t forget to register to come visit us!), I always end up reflecting on how scared and nervous I was as a high school junior and senior visiting colleges; I don’t think I asked a single question on any of the college visits I went on. But you shouldn’t be afraid of us! When your tour guide rattles off their name and their major and their hometown and their minors and all the clubs their involved in and where they studied abroad and on and on and on, it can be a little intimidating but believe us we’re people too. Most likely that tour guide had ice cream for dinner last night because college is hard and we’re people too or spent three hours laughing at funny cat videos because one more time for the people in the back…college is hard and we’re people too. As a tour guide, there’s nothing I love more than giving a tour to a family who asks a lot of questions, so please do! Ask me any and all questions. Ask them if they seem weird; ask them if they seem obvious; ask them if they seem like they pry too much into my personal life (maybe not the do you have a boyfriend question, that one does get a little weird). At the same time, I understand that knowing where to start can feel equally as intimidating so I’ve complied a list from my experiences as a veteran tour guide and the input of my peers on questions you absolutely should be asking us.
1) Why did you choose Nazareth College? An absolute must! If you only ask your tour guide one question make sure it’s this one! I could write an entire blog post about why this is the greatest question to ask on tour but, for the sake of time, here are a few big reasons. First, this is an easy way to gauge your tour guide’s enthusiasm for their college. I know that personally my answer to this question takes up about ten minutes of the tour and that’s me attempting to answer briefly. Your tour guide should gush about their college like a freshman girl gushing about her crush. No gushing? That might be a little bit of a yellow flag. Secondly, you’re probably looking at similar colleges as your tour guide did; what about Nazareth made it a better choice in your tour guide’s mind? Their answers could help you make a decision between your top two or three schools.
2) What do you like least about Nazareth College? Another great question. This question always catches tour guides off guard and answers that haven’t been rehearsed will be more honest and realistic. A tour guide who points out a major flaw with their college might not be having the best college experience; a tour guide who’s complaints seem minor and frivolous is having a phenomenal college experience. Just for illustration’s sake, my answer to this question is the mascot; what even is a Golden Flyer? No one really knows. (Frivolous, right? Yea, I think Naz is pretty great.)
3) Do students leave on weekends/What is there to do on weekends? College is as much about your education as it is about your social life. College should be the best four years of your life (or five or six…)! At Nazareth, there are always things going on from sports games to theater shows to spiritual retreats to grocery bingo. There’s something for everyone and there’s something every night of the week. I cannot stress enough that at Naz you will never be bored! And that’s the way it should be; college should be just as busy and crazy on the weekends as it is during the week.
4) How does laundry work? Might seem like a minor detail but when you can just walk down the hallway and throw your dirty clothes in the dryer at one in the morning on a Tuesday night as opposed to having to lug it down three flights of stairs and take all the floor mats out of your car to scrounge for quarters you won’t think it’s a minor detail. At Naz every floor of every residence hall has multiple washers and dryers AND laundry is included in the price of tuition (read as: no hoarding of quarters and bringing your laundry home for mom to do).
5) Where is the parking for residents/commuters? Again, might seem like a minor detail but believe me when you live in upstate NY and its the middle of a blizzard in January you want your car to be as close to your residence hall/academic building as physically possible. Some colleges have priority parking for upperclassmen and make freshman park in lots so far away you’ll question whether you are even on the college campus any more; some colleges have parking lots off campus for commuters who then have to take a shuttle to get to campus. At Nazareth, every residence hall has a parking lot attached and we have specific lots near academic buildings for our commuters…no shuttles or extreme arctic survival gear necessary.
6) What was the best class you took outside of your major? I love this question! The general education classes that every college student has to take can either be a chore or a fascinating opportunity. When I was a sophomore, I took a class entitled “The Rise and Fall of Communism” to fulfill my history requirement; how cool is that? I loved every minute of it. In fact, I’ve loved every minute of my general education classes here at Naz. I’ve taken classes such as Ethics through Russian Literature, History, Literature, and Art of the Spanish Civil War, and Rhetoric: An Examination using Environmental Activism. No one wants to sit through another Western Civilization class (been there done that right?); it’ll be a chore and a pain, something you dread every week. But fulfilling your philosophy requirement through a seminar-style class devoted to the ethical implications of Russian literature? Now that’s something I don’t mind getting out of bed in the morning for.
7) What is there to do nearby campus? Huge. As great as your college is, you’re going to want to get away. Think of college like your best friend; as much as you love her, spending all of your time 24/7 with the same person would not be OK. Spending time away from each other is good for every relationship including the one you have with your college. At Nazareth, we have the best of both worlds: a campus in a sleepy, little village that’s a five minute drive from downtown. There’s something for everyone a quick walk or bus ride away from diners to Cheesecake Factory, from vintage-y thrift shops to the mall, from a movie theater to underground theater leagues. Did I mention Naz is a regular stop on the Rochester City bus routes and that students get free/discounted tickets? Major win.
8) How easy is it to get in touch with professors? College is hard and you’ll think you’re prepared for how hard it is and for how progressively harder each semester is and then you won’t be. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as a college student is to ask for help especially from my professors. Textbooks and your classmates are only so helpful so, when you’re confused, it makes sense to go to the expert you have conveniently on hand – your professor. At Nazareth, all our professors are required to keep office hours but what I’ve found is when they’re not in class, they’re almost always in their offices with the door open ready to talk about anything and everything. Availability of professors is one of the biggest benefits I’ve discovered of a small school; they’re here because they want to be professors first and researchers second. That’s not to say that our faculty isn’t still active in their field but their own work is the main focus of the summer and we’re their main focus when class is in session. At Nazareth, the only excuse you have for not being able to get in touch with your professor is not trying.
9) Do you have any advice for seniors making the transition from high school to college? Put this question in the same category as questions 1 and 2. Your tour guides are living, breathing college students who are currently living the college life. Do you have any questions about the application process? About what your first few weeks on campus will be like? About the best ways to study for college classes and how they’re different from high school classes? Just ask us!
10) What experiences have you had that have helped you to feel prepared to join the real world after you graduate? Once again, a really important question. Obviously the end goal of college is to prepare you to enter the real world, land a killer job, and kick off a phenomenal career but not all colleges are created equal on this one. It’s important to talk to your tour guide about how their college and their department are preparing them for the real world once they graduate. Are internships required? How many? What kind of internship placements are there? Is there a career services department on campus? What kind of services and events do they offer? How does the college help prepare students for grad school? Did they ever have to do any projects that involved pushing out into the community or bringing the community on campus? Your college career shouldn’t just be a little bubble of academia; it should be a union of classroom and real-world learning that gives you any and all of the skills you’ll need to have a successful career regardless of what you decide to do.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to ask your tour guide questions. They’re experts in both what it is to be a college student, in their respective college, and, more importantly, we love to share what we know about both of those things. Happy college search process everyone!
Feeling overwhelmed by the college search process? Here are some tips for narrowing down your search.