Making the Most of Your Campus Tour

In the past year alone, I have spoken with thousands of high school students about what it is like to be a part of the UCLA community.  My parting advice for them is always the same.  I could talk for hours about how great the UCLA community has been for me, but the best way to get a sense of the atmosphere here is absolutely to visit and see for yourself.  UCLA is an incredible institution, but every student has different needs when selecting a university and visiting can help determine if UCLA is the right fit for you.

Below, you will find my top ten tips for visiting UCLA (or any school!) and my advice on how to make the most of your campus experience.

  1. Do your research ahead of time.
    1. Before setting foot on campus, know a little bit about the type of school you are visiting. This is especially helpful early in the process when you are deciding on the size, location, and type of institution that is of most interest to you.
  2. Reserve a spot on a guided tour in advance.
    1. UCLA is the most applied to school in the nation and tour reservations fill up quickly. Book your tour 3-4 months in advance if possible but be aware that additional spaces become available as tour guides finalize their academic schedules (they’re students too!).
  3. When you arrive on campus, you’re in charge.
    1. This is a good reminder for parents, guardians, and siblings too – it’s their turn to take a back seat. This is your potential home for the next four years, so take this opportunity to get to know it inside and out.  Introduce yourself and your guests at check-in, ask questions on the tour, explore buildings on campus that interest you – take the lead!
  4. Have a checklist of important questions ready.
    1. Prepare a short list of questions that you absolutely don’t want to forget to ask. Focus on things you cannot easily find online and things that are especially important to you.
  5. Visit the residential facilities and eat on campus.
    1. Being a college student is about a lot more than going to class. Consider taking a housing tour, walking around The Hill (our on-campus residential community), and eating in a dining hall to get the full student experience.
  6. Visit a class and/or go to an event.
    1. College visits can be so much more than just an information session and tour. Visit a real college class via UCLA Lecture Experience, check out the Athletic Hall of Fame, tour the Fowler Museum, or watch a live student performance.  Check the UCLA Tours homepage and the UCLA Events Calendar beforehand to see what’s happening on campus while you’re here.
  7. Visit the Admission Office.
    1. We know the process of being admitted to college can be daunting. We’re here to help!  Feel free to stop by Undergraduate Admission to have your questions answered on the spot.  You’re also able to connect with your specific admission representative here.
  8. Don’t get caught up on majors.
    1. If you’re already leaning toward a particular area of study, this is a good factor to consider when applying for schools. That said, try not to overemphasize the importance of major when touring UCLA or any other campus.  Get a sense of what you like and don’t like about the campus atmosphere and factor your major choice (or lack thereof) into the equation later on.  You need to love the school you choose for more than just your intended major – and many students change their major multiple times anyway!
  9. Talk to multiple students (or at least do the smile test).
    1. A tour guide or interaction in a dining hall can really make or break your experience visiting a college. While these interactions are crucial, try not to let any one person or experience shape your entire view of a school.  Chat with students relaxing on the grass, ask an employee what their favorite aspect of UCLA is, smile at folks and see if they smile back.  The more interactions you have, the more accurate your view of a campus community will be.
  10. If you can’t get to campus, use your resources.
    1. Many students simply aren’t able to get to campus physically – this just means you’ll have to do a bit of extra research! Take a virtual tour of campus, connect with your admission representative to see if there are any upcoming events in your hometown, and be thorough in your research of the school before applying.

At the end of the day, there are probably many universities where you could thrive.  Your job is simply to find the place you feel the most at home and take the leap.  Best of luck and GO BRUINS!

McKenna Rogan is an Admission Officer on the Freshman Recruitment Team at UCLA Undergraduate Admission.