Are you starting to think of your graduate school options? If your preference is for full-time or modular studies, there is nothing better than getting a feel for different universities while making up your mind. This is where the school campus visit comes in handy.

The campus tour is an excellent way to experience the life of a Masters student at a particular university before you even apply. It is immersive and eye-opening and if you can afford to travel to campus in person – by all means, do it!

Virtual campus tours are a good alternative if you live too far away or if the situation with the pandemic does not allow in-person visits. Otherwise, here are the top three essential reasons to go for a school campus visit.

Get a feel for the location

Are you a fan of big campuses with lecture halls, cafeterias, and dorms all in one place? Or would you thrive better in a small, but cosy university? Some people always dream of studying in a huge, cosmopolitan city, only to find out that it can be too overwhelming and noisy for their personality. Going on a school campus visit gives you the opportunity to discover the location where you feel most comfortable

It’s true that university websites already provide a ton of pictures and information about their location. With a few clicks online, you can easily find out if a particular campus is well connected to public transport, how it looks, and even nearby cafes. But would all of this really get you immersed in the environment? You need to set foot there yourself to truly grasp the size and the vibe of the place.

Plus, seeing the university facilities in person will give you details you might have never thought to ask about. Are there enough quiet study rooms? Are the buildings newly renovated or do they feel too old-fashioned for you? Even one day spent on campus will provide you with a handful of useful impressions.

Read: Explore University Options with a Free Campus Tour

Meet students and university staff

What might be even more important than the environment is the people inhabiting it. The easiest way to get to know some of them is by arranging to meet the university staff. This is a common feature of most school campus tours – someone has to show you around after all.

While arranging your visit with the university, you could ask who will be available to meet you throughout the day. Perhaps you could schedule additional consultations with admission advisers, professors, or even current students? All of this depends on your specific interests and on the availability of the staff.

University staff will know the most about statistics related to the school and admission criteria. But your best source of information about the actual study process is the pool of current students. “You can get the standard marketing lines on the website or in the brochure, but really talking with current students will give you a true understanding,highlights Jeffrey Franke, assistant dean of graduate programmes at the University of Cincinnati (US).

Sit in on a real lecture

Many pre-arranged school campus tours already include the option to take part in a real lecture or class exercise. What better way to get to know the study process than to see it with your own eyes?

Sitting in on a class might be part of an open house day when other prospective students like you are welcome to attend a specific lecture. This usually requires some planning on the side of the university, so don’t be surprised if you can’t choose a specific lecture yourself. However, if you have the chance to visit the class you are most interested in, this would be an invaluable opportunity to see if the hype is real.

But what if you don’t like what you see in class? Don’t let the disappointment settle just yet. Take this piece of advice from the non-profit organisation Idealist: “As you consider these questions, remember that generalising from one class is rarely advisable or accurate. Your class visit is a great chance to experience one part of the programme, but it’s not going to give you a complete picture of the programme in its entirety.

There are other ways to get to know the environment such as meeting career advisers or taking a stroll through the city. You should customise your school campus visit in a way that makes sense for you. Any additional interaction will help you make the right decision for your Masters.