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  • Writer's pictureDanielle

Access and Equity: Challenges and Limitations of Campus Tours

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

For centuries, education has been a highly coveted and valued opportunity for those with access. Even without access, people did everything they could to try to learn and enrich their lives by educating themselves.

In today’s world, many continue on to college to continue the learning process. Here in the U.S., four-year colleges are the most popular choice.

Choosing a college is one of the most important things a student and their family will pursue after high school if they’ve chosen to continue their education journey by going to college. The college selection process consists of many parts, but there’s one aspect that gives students a realistic view of college life: the college tour.

girl sitting on dorm bed eating an apple
Cottonbro via

College tours serve as an opportunity for students to visit campuses in person, see the dorms, facilities and to observe how students interact with professors and staff on campus. But what about those who are unable to visit a campus?

Challenges and Limitations Keeping Students from a Campus Tour As an advocate for equity and access in education, my hope is that every college-bound student is able to experience a college tour. Unfortunately, I know that’s not every family’s reality.

There are multiple barriers to attending a campus tour including cost, timing and subjectivity of tours.

Travel expenses can add up quickly when considering transportation to visit a college (airfare, rental car, lodging and food costs). Regardless of whether you plan to remain in-state, or travel out of state for a visit, time off for parents or guardians is another invisible cost. Unpaid days off may not be feasible for some. Additionally, accessibility may be a factor for you or your family.

Closely related is timing, as some students may be unable to visit a campus during the academic year when they’ll be able to get the best feel for a campus.   

young man at desk looking at tablet
Julia M. Cameron for

Another challenge can be the subjectivity of your personal experience on a tour. Was it raining on your tour? Gloomy weather? Boring tour guide? Detour or shortened tour of campus? These factors could very well affect your perception of a college, so it’s helpful to note that and see if others felt the same way.  

Alternatives to In-Person Tours

If some of the limitations covered previously prevent you from attending a campus tour, have no fear!

There are alternatives like using online college resources such as College Score Card, Big Future and more to assist you in researching schools. Don’t forget about social media and forums like Reddit, TikTok and Instagram to see what others are saying and doing on campus. Also, if you can attend a local college fair, university representatives are often in attendance to answer any questions you may have.

Visit options include virtual tours. Many colleges offer virtual tours on their admission’s website. You can also see if your campus is part of Amazon’s College Tour series or check out official YouTube videos from the school highlighting their campus.

Wrap Up

College tours are advantageous for various reasons, but clearly not a reality for all. When students approach the tour with the same level of focus and intent they would apply when considering a high-priced item such as a car or a place to live, it provides clarity. so, even if you are unable to visit a campus in person, you're still guaranteed to learn a lot about the campus using the many tools on your phone, or local library.

Have you done any virtual visits? What were your thoughts about them? Did you walk away with new information about the university? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Let me know at!

If you’re planning a visit soon, be sure to grab your copy of The College Visit Journal to serve as a useful resource on your journey!

Aerial view of person watching virtual chat on computer at a desk taking notes
Julia M. Cameron via


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