A lot of weight hangs on a college visit. Visiting a college is a chance to give the college your own in-person “interview.” Even if a school looks great on paper and a student is totally convinced, that moment a student steps foot on campus can be a swing factor. “Feel” is something that can’t be beaten out by college stats, majors offered, and highly-reputed faculty.
There are a lot of students that think they know what they want from the get-go. A legacy at Penn might think that Penn is the right choice, for example. Or a high-achieving student might think the best choice is the most competitive Ivy League school. But until there is some kind of personal interaction with the school, there will always still be an element of doubt. That’s why we’d like to help you make the most of your college visit with these tips.
Schedule the visit
Follow the procedures set out by each college. Usually, the admissions page off of the website will take you to a calendar to register for the visit. You may notice that some colleges offer information sessions and tours on weekdays with limited Saturday hours. Avoid scheduling your visit during major high school breaks as there will be abundantly more people and that can really affect the impression that the student will get from the school. Also, give enough time to absorb that college’s distinctiveness.
Ask personal questions
In the “college-prospective student relationship,” it’s not a one-way street. The purpose of open houses and visits is not just for the college to attract students and do marketing. Students should be just as demanding and find out all the information they seek. This also includes questions about social life and extracurriculars. A lot of people may shy away from non-academic questions, but especially with student tour guides, ask them about a typical day of classes or a typical weekend. A college visit is the chance to find out all the information that’s not already on the website.
Go beyond the campus tour
When searching for the best visits, aim for half-day or full-day programs at schools. This will give you a chance to get a better feel for the school, rather than just the campus tour of academic buildings and dining halls. This gives you time to marinate and really envision yourself on campus. While this option might not be available at every school (and shouldn’t be done for every school either, since it’s time-consuming), it will give the student an idea of what to look for on their other visits. And the school that offers it hopes that the student will see the difference in the depth and personal approach given at the host school. In some schools, outside of pandemic conditions, there is also the possibility of staying overnight in a dorm.
Stay involved after admission
College events for admitted students are critical for getting an understanding of the student demographic. Just because you’re admitted doesn’t mean you’re 100% decided on that college, and these events can really allow you to see if you fit in. What are the students talking about? What kinds of backgrounds do they come from? Could they be your friends, lab partners or group members? These are all important questions to consider when making those decisions. If the admitted students day confirms your decision, it will also help in your transition to that school in the fall and put your mind at ease in some areas.
Choosing the right college is a mutual decision and spending the time in person and on campus is the best way to know if you’re on the right track. For help finding that perfect college fit, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today!
Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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