Don’t get me wrong - as a veteran tour guide, I find the process of going on a guided college tour to be indispensable to the average prospective student. The fact that, on a guided tour, you have an expert with you at all times to answer questions, point things out to you that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed, and show you the most notable parts of the college in question is crucial to really getting to know a school that you’re considering. On the other hand, though, sometimes the circumstances make it so that a quality traditional tour isn’t possible, and you’ve got to go for plan B: a self-guided tour. And look, it happens - maybe you showed up late, maybe your tour guide wasn’t so great, maybe you just want a little extra one-on-one with the campus. Whatever the situation, a self-guided tour doesn’t have to be a curse or a chore, and it can actually be quite a positive learning experience.
That being said, I’ve compiled below a list of some things I think you should do to make your self-guided tour (of any campus, not just Tufts!) as effective as possible:
- Do your homework!
- Just strolling onto campus and expecting to be able to absorb information about it without any context whatsoever will almost certainly get you nowhere. Instead, read up on the school to get a sense of what kind of place you’re going to. I’d personally suggest reading more informal reviews of the school, like the “Best and Worst” category on Niche, the results on twitter when you search for the school’s name, that sort of thing. Official factbooks are nice, but a student to faculty ratio isn’t going to be all that useful when you’re wandering around campus by yourself.
- Go at the right time
- Specifically, on a weekday, around lunchtime. That will for sure give you the most people-watching material to work with, and the general commotion around campus makes you less likely to stand out as a prospective student as opposed to an actual one. A self-guided tour at 8 AM on a Sunday would be boring. One at midnight on a Saturday night, however, would probably be very interesting.
- Get dirty
- Just walking a lap around the quad and calling it a self-guided tour would be false! You need to actually get into buildings and dorms and bathrooms and dining halls to get a real look at the school. During the week, buildings are a shoo-in: at least at Tufts, just about every academic building is open during the day, so walk in and look around! Look (and listen!) into classrooms, try to figure out what department teaches where, see how long it takes you to walk from one academic building on campus to another one on the other side, that sort of thing.
- With regard to dorms…
- Try to at least get a look inside. Often, dorm buildings will have their lobby open to anyone during the day, so walk in and take a look at the students in their natural habitat. And, hey, if someone is willing to let you in to see their room, don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
- Ask for special access
- You’d be surprised how far this can get you. Dining halls, for example, are a great place to try this out. Usually, if you innocently mention to the workers at a dining hall that you’re a prospective student and you’d like to take a look inside, they’ll let you walk around. While you’re at it, take a slice of pizza! Why not? You’ve got to see what the food is like somehow.
- Go to the library
- You’ve got to go to the library. I guess it varies from person to person actually where they do their work, but a large portion of the student body works in the library. I basically lived there during my freshman and sophomore years. Take some homework from school or find a book on the shelf and just hang out there for a bit. You’ll get to see how students at the college study, what they’re studying, and what their mindsets are with regard to it.
- If you’re feeling particularly brave, talk to somebody!
- I don’t mean you have to have a full-length conversation with every student you see about why they love (or hate) their school, but just some small talk with somebody you find on campus could go a long way in helping you learn firsthand what the student body is like. A great suggestion is to find an on-campus coffee shop and to ask the person you’re behind in line what drink you should order. Always mention that you’re a prospective student - I swear, those are the two magic words that turn anybody on campus into a friendly, talkative impromptu tour guide.
- Don’t go with your parents!
- Don’t do it! Your parents won’t be with you in college, so why take them on your self-guided tour? Drop them off at a restaurant and explore by yourself. This way, you’ll have a lot more time to yourself to think and reflect on how you feel about the school, as opposed to how your parents feel about it.
That’s it for now - there’s a lot more that you can and should do to make a self-guided tour a good one, but with those eight points I think you’ll find a good starting block. And hey, if you do it right, you might find that a self-guided tour can provide you with some really unique information than no regular tour ever could.
Plan Your Visit to the Medford/Somerville Campus
The best way to get a sense of the Tufts undergraduate experience is to visit us! Plan your visit here.
Our Medford/Somerville campus – home to the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering – is located just five miles northwest of Boston and may be easily reached by car or public transportation. Register for a visit below.
Our Fenway campus, home to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, is located in downtown Boston. If you're interested in learning more about the BFA or Combined Degree program with the SMFA, visit the Fenway Campus.
Select a Date
Please see the Campus Visit Calendar to select the date of your visit to our Medford/Somerville campus, view available information sessions and tours, and register for a visit. Online registration is strongly recommended. If you are planning a visit for a group of 15 or more students, please register here.
Our Visitors Center is located in Dowling Hall, 419 Boston Ave., 7th floor, Medford MA, 02155. Please park in the Dowling Hall Garage located at 419 Boston Ave. There is an $8 charge for parking in the garage. After parking, visitors should ride the elevator to the 7th floor and check in at the Undergraduate Admissions reception desk in the lobby. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes early to check in and register. For further instructions on parking and directions, click here.
For information on open houses, special accommodations, and campus closings, click here.
Admissions Office Hours:
Activities to Consider During Your Visit
Register for an Information Session
Information sessions, presented by an Admissions Officer, are offered Monday–Friday. These 60-minute talks provide an introduction to Tufts while highlighting some of our academic programs and discussing the admissions process. Seating is limited during busy times and we ask that you register online.
Register for a Campus Tour
Campus tours, led by current students, are offered several times a day and last about 70 minutes. We ask that you register ahead of time and encourage you to pair the tour with an information session. Our campus tours require navigation of hills and stairs, so please contact us ahead of time if anyone in your party has difficulty with mobility.
Engineering Information Sessions
Learn about engineering visits
If you are interested in the School of Engineering, then consider an Engineering Information Session, which offers all of the admissions content of a standard Information Session but with an engineering focus. Engineering Information Sessions are offered at noon on February 19th, 21st, 23rd, March 30th, April 21st, Mondays in April, and select Fridays in April and May.
Engineering Campus Tours
Register for an Engineering Campus Tour
Engineering Campus Tours are offered at 1:00 PM following the Engineering Information Sessions. The campus tour, led by current Engineering students, covers Engineering requirements and classes, research opportunities, and new Engineering facilities as well as Tufts student life. If you are unable to register for an Engineering Campus Tour, engineering will also be covered in the General Campus Tour. We request that you please not sign up for both a General and Engineering Campus Tour.
Arts Information Sessions
Register for an Arts Information Session
Offered in the spring semester, the Arts Information Session is a 60-minute information session led by an admissions officer specifically for students interested in pursuing the arts. These sessions will cover the growing opportunities in studio art through the SMFA at Tufts, including the BFA program and the 5-year Combined Degree BFA + BA/BS program. This session is also appropriate for students interested in pursing the arts in other ways at Tufts.
View the course schedule
Class visits are available on a walk-in basis during the spring semester beginning the first week of February. Please be advised that the following link is for Fall 2017. Click here for the class visit schedule. Students should plan to show up at the classroom ten minutes early to check in with the professors and stay for the entire class. Please come to Dowling Hall at the start of your day so we can be sure we have you registered and in our database. Sorry parents, but faculty have requested that these classes be limited to prospective students only.
Lunch with a Student
Learn more about Lunch Hosting
Lunch Hosting is a great way to spend some quality time with a current Tufts student. All prospective students are welcome to sign-up for a Lunch Host through the end of March. In April, Lunch Hosting will be available for admitted students only, who can sign up for a lunch host through a link provided with their acceptance.Learn More
Schools and other organizations wishing to bring groups of fifteen or more high school juniors or seniors to campus should register here. We are unable to accommodate groups of 15 or more on weekends, holidays, and school vacation weeks.
In the fall, we offer opportunities to learn more about Tufts by attending an Engineering Open House, the Women In Engineering at Tufts Open House, a STEM Open House, the Arts Open House at the SMFA, or the Arts and Humanities Open House. Click here for more information.
Our campus tours require navigation of hills and stairs, so please contact us ahead of time if anyone in your party has difficulty with mobility. We do have a wheelchair on-site, should you need one. We may not be able to accommodate if not given proper notification.
You may call 617-627-3170 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We strive to make your visit to Tufts University enjoyable.
When our Medford/Somerville or Fenway campus is closed due to severe weather or other emergencies, our tours and information sessions are canceled. You will find information about campus closings at www.tufts.edu or by calling the automated line at 617-627-4636.
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