Campus Tours: Selecting the Best HBCUs to Visit

Last Updated on May 25, 2023

A female high school student sits on the campus of an HBCU while participating in a series of campus tours.

Selecting the best school to go to for a college degree can depend on several factors which revolve around one question: what is your definition of “the best school for you”? The answer could vary depending on what the person is looking for. If you're on the fence about your choice of college or university, here are some selection criteria to ponder.

Program Offerings

Your program of choice can be the most effective selection criterion for identifying the best schools to apply to. The best school for you should offer the program you want to take up. Keep this in mind when you go touring in different colleges. It can be mesmerizing to take in everything that a college or university has to offer, but stick to your objective, which is to seek out what kind of training the school offers in your chosen program. Ask questions and do an ocular inspection of the facilities. Pay close attention to laboratories and technical support around the campus, which could be tell-tale signs of a strong science and technology program. Look into the roster of clubs and ask which ones are the biggest and most active.

For instance, if you're looking for a good theater program, find a school that offers career support and sponsored internships to good professional theater companies. Seek out the drama club and find out how the students are getting by with productions, admin support for the club, and frequency of performances and other related issues. Sometimes, the school will open several doors of opportunity for you just because the program of your choice is particularly successful in that school.

The same goes for study-abroad program options. These study-abroad or student exchange programs could be the clincher to your final college choices. Some offerings are more generous than others, with better financial support, housing and partner-school options. While you will probably only spend a semester or two abroad, the experience can help shape your perspective and make you more competitive in your field.

Excellent Living Conditions

Whether you're staying in campus or off-campus, your lifestyle should be conducive to studying and learning. Excellent living conditions don't just mean having a functional heater or air conditioning system in your residence hall. You should feel comfortable and safe living in your home away from home so that you can concentrate on getting your degree without worrying about the residence hall walls falling on you as you sleep.

Campus tours will always feature the newest housing options and may not cover the rundown dormitories in the area, so do your own research. Find out if freshmen can choose their dorms and if there are special housing options for people with special interests. Sometimes, schools select roommates according to hometowns and belief systems.

Published Rankings

Rankings can be misleading, and some great universities out there have suffered recruitment-wise because of these ranking systems, but some tidbits of information included in ranking systems may benefit those who have not yet decided where to go. Freshman retention rate is a good indicator of school quality because it indicates the number of students that regret going to that school and would transfer out as soon as they could. While you're visiting, try to talk to students to find out if the rankings are justified, and some possible reasons why the school is ranked so low or so high in different ranking systems.

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