Last week, on a sunny afternoon, I drove up to Simon Fraser University (SFU) Burnaby for a campus tour. After parking, I followed an impressively detailed set of directions (sent by SFU Student Services) through the maze of construction to our meeting point. There I met the other guests on the tour – from the US, Iran, and Canada – and our tour guide.
We started by watching a video highlighting the university’s interest in engagement, entrepreneurship, and overcoming fear to try the new. Then the tour guide led us around for 90 minutes, allowing us to see many of the most important areas of the campus. We saw a dining hall, a residence, a lecture theatre, and lots of different departments. She mentioned that SFU is the only Canadian university to participate in the NCAA, has an exciting new Sustainable Energy Engineering program (Surrey campus), runs three semesters a year (fall, winter, and summer) for greater flexibility, offers a co-op program across all departments and faculties, and, of course, holds regular bunny yoga classes. She talked about her own experiences as a first year student and answered many questions. At the end, an admissions officer met us to answer more specific queries.
The campus is a mix of new and old. SFU is undergoing immense change, with construction in all directions, as the Arthur Erikson buildings of the 1960s are joined by modern glass structures. The new Student Union Building is set to open soon, followed by a number of other projects (maybe including a Translink gondola?). Being on the campus reminded me how SFU really is a city unto itself, with gorgeous views of the water and the mountains, residential communities, and an elementary school.
This experience reminded me of why tours can be so important as students begin to make choices between schools. If I were a grade 11 or 12 (or their parent), this tour would allow me to take the information I had previously gathered and turn it into a more concrete impression, one that would allow me to decide if this is the right environment for me.
If you and your students would like to book a tour of a university near or far, just google ‘[university name] campus tours.” You will be taken to a site that tells you when tours are being offered and allows you to sign up. Start with schools close to home, and think of adding campus tours to your travels!