What Should Parents Ask on a College Tour?

by Marilyn McCullough

Congratulations! If you are reading this, then you’ve probably been asked to tag along with your son or daughter on a college campus tour, which is always a plus.

Now what?

As a parent, you will inevitably have different questions than your child when going on a college tour. And, there is a fine line between how many questions you ask the tour guide before you get kicked under the table and are on the receiving end of a snarky glare. However, we are parents…it is our job to ask lots of questions and sometimes embarrass our kids, right?

Here are several questions I asked when visiting Trinity University. 
  • What is the academic experience? What is the curriculum structure, size of classes, and accessibility to faculty?
  • Who teaches the classes? Teaching assistants? Professors? And, inquire whether this is the case for all four years.
  • Outcomes – what are some prominent alumni?
  • What is the institution’s emphasis and availability to the Career Services office?
  • What is the campus life experience? How would your tour guide describe his or her time on campus and what would they say about their quality of life, e.g., dorms, food options, sense of community, etc.?
  • Graduation rates – what percentage of students graduate in four years?
Trinity University student points to the solution.

Accessibility, health, and counseling services. What resources are in place and readily available for students?

Campus safety – Is there an escort service? 24/7 dispatch service? What types of alert systems are in place? For more on this topic, see “What Makes A Safe College Campus?”

Costs and financial aid, of course. Ask where you can find more detailed resources as well. Note: the cost and financial aid question should probably be researched a bit before stepping foot on campus.

What parent resources are available? How does the institution connect with parents?

Finally, get your tour guide to give as many personal examples as you can. It is about the facts and figures, but also about a student’s authentic perspective.

What is there to do in the city? Do students stay on campus on the weekend or is it empty?

Trinity University students and faculty take part in Moth Night at the Alamo Brewery.
If you are starting the touring process over the summer, and coupling this with summer vacations, you are brilliant and ahead of the game. The fall is when touring season ramps up – or at least it did for our family. Regardless of when you visit college campuses, a tour is invaluable because it really allows you to get a sense of the place. It also allows your child to reflect on what it might be like to call this institution home for the next four years.

Best of luck! You are embarking on an exciting process.

About Marilyn

Marilyn McCullough, an Arizona resident by way of New York, is a docent at Ft. Tuthill Military Museum and retired teacher. She sent two children to Trinity University.


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