Five Things to Know If You Are Planning an Upcoming College Visit
Presidents’ Day Weekend is upon us and Spring Break is just weeks away for some high schools. This is a wonderful opportunity for college-bound students to start visiting colleges. If you are planning visits in the coming weeks and months, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Many colleges, especially the private, “selective” ones, keep track of visitors. This can help a student if they end up applying to the college down the road. In other words, some colleges will factor in a student’s “demonstrated interest” when they make an admissions decision. The most straightforward way to show a college that you are interested in them is to visit their campus. Make sure to register in the admissions office so they know you were there!
- Even if a college doesn’t use “demonstrated interest” as part of their admissions process, visiting a college campus will give the student a better sense of the college and could potentially help them with college-specific essays once they apply. If a college has an additional essay requirement which asks why the student is applying or which program they are interested in, the student will be able to write a stronger essay if they have been to campus.
- Holiday breaks are popular times to visit colleges. Look at the visit page of a college’s admissions office to find out what is offered and whether a reservation is required in advance. Keep in mind that because it will be a busy day for the admissions office, tours might be larger than usual and you might not be able to have as much one-on-one contact with an admissions officer.
- At a minimum, take a campus tour. If possible, attend an information session led by an admissions staff member. Leave time to explore campus before or after the tour/information session. Sometimes the most influential time is when the student explores campus on their own. So, visit the bookstore; have a meal on campus; sit on the quad or in the student center and people-watch if you have time. This will give the student a sense of what it’s like to go there.
- If a college offers on-campus interviews, save it for the summer or early fall of senior year. That might mean that a return visit is in order. But having a college interview before this can be stressful and premature. There is plenty of time to prepare and schedule college interviews, and most of the colleges that offer interviews do it in the student’s local area once the application is submitted.
Visiting colleges is one of the most important steps in the admissions process. Even if the visit is a flop, the student is able to gain a better understanding of what they are looking for in a college. So, fearlessly visit. And, take time to enjoy the journey.