This summer I traveled along the East Coast to tour top colleges - I wanted to not only get an understanding of what these colleges were like, but also to see if Collegefit would be a truly viable option in these schools.
The most noteworthy tours were the University of Maryland at College Park, UPenn, and Princeton. I am genuinely interested in attending all three of these schools and kept an open mind about their tours. I've gone into detail about all three of these schools and their tours in separate blogs. This blog will be about my tour experience at the University of Maryland, College Park.
We took the twilight tour - from 4 PM to 6 PM. Prior to actually walking around campus, we watched a 10-minute introductory video to the college, which gave us some useful basic information about admission and scholarship deadlines and possible majors.
Our tour began after that, and we had two guides for a group of around 10-15, a much better number than what we would see in other colleges. However, both of our guides were Public Policy majors, a problem if someone wanted to major in something completely different. It wasn't a problem for me, as I want to major in something close to Public Policy, but there were many prospective engineering students on our tour. While the guides did try to answer their questions, actual engineering students would've been able to give far better answers.
The tour guides answered my questions very well. Here are my key takeaways about the college itself:
It's super easy to switch majors between schools, and double major/major and minor. This was useful information, as I will probably double major. The only school within the College that seemed to be the exception was the Business school, but we didn't get much information on that since the tour guides were public policy majors.
The campus seemed pretty safe and there were blue lights everywhere.
It's a pretty big school - something like 29000 undergrads. The tour guides assured us you can make the school as big or as small as you want, which is pretty much the same statement you get everywhere.
Their mascot, Terp the Turtle, is a huge deal. Out of all the schools I've visited, none have put more emphasis on their mascot. Our guides used Terp for humor purposes really well.
Their dining halls have biometric scanning, with unlimited swipes. They gave us a really nice tidbit about being able to give the chef recipes from home that can be customized for you. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to go inside.
Same deal with housing - we were not allowed to go inside any buildings, however, they gave us basic information.
The tour I took at UMD was among the better ones I've taken. The tour guides were very friendly, knowledgeable, and funny. However, I found the same problems with this tour that are present in all tours I've taken: we weren't allowed inside any classes or halls, there was far too much time spent talking about the history of the college (which is important, but all tours are too short to spend as much time on it as they do), and our tour guides were not personalized for everyone; students who wanted to go into other fields, especially engineering, did not get some of their questions properly answered.
I got a good feel for the college through this tour, but I was not immersed in it.