One of the best parts of my job is visiting college campuses. I enjoy walking around, talking with students, and getting a feel for each school. I do what I hope my college advisees will do: 1) I make sure I am prepared to ask questions that might not be answered in a tour or information session; 2) I go into the visit with an open mind; 3) I take photos and write notes to help remind me about the school later on.
Visiting colleges is one of the most important parts of the process. Putting yourself in the midst of college students will give you a sense of the community and what the campus vibe is like. Making arrangements for a tour and information session will allow you to meet with an admissions representative, listen to their pitch, and ask questions based on what you are looking for in a college. Some schools offer open houses, complete with student panels, presentations made by faculty, and in-depth sessions on the application process, all of which is impactful.
So what should students and their families consider as they make plans to journey forth on college visits?
- Visit all kinds of campuses. It is important to get a feel for what your state university feels like as well as smaller campuses. Likewise, check out colleges in the city and others that are in rural settings. Finally, it is critical to visit schools across the selectivity spectrum. This means that it is equally important for you to visit colleges listed on your “likely” list as it is those considered “reach” or “far reach” schools. Be open to falling in love with multiple colleges.
- Interview. If a college you are interested in offers interviews, don’t be foolish -- sign up for one. Visit the “Admissions” section of the college’s website for more information about how to schedule an interview as well as going on a tour and sitting in on an information session. In preparation for the interview, the two most important things to remember are to be yourself and be prepared. Dress appropriately and be ready to discuss who you are, what you do, and how you contribute to life at Tabor. Review the college’s website and have some questions ready based on what you learned and what you’d like to know.
- Plan Ahead and Schedule Wisely. When you decide to visit a city, state, or region, prepare for your travels by making a plan. Given the time you have available, decide which colleges you want to include. Avoid more than two visits a day. Leave time to travel from college-to-college, to eat lunch, and to collect your thoughts. Using the online tools available on each school’s Admissions web page, register (where required) for a tour and information session ahead of time. If interviews are available, be sure to arrange for one. At the end of each day, look at the notes you took during your visit; add to them or write down questions that may have gone unanswered. Following up with the college admissions representative assigned to Tabor to have your questions answered is a wise move.
A word for parents
Let your child lead the way. Allow him or her to be the one to ask questions of tour guides, admissions reps, or people you meet in the community. Be supportive, but don’t take over. Campus visits can be a lot of fun if students are prepared to watch, listen, ask questions, and reflect. Allow your son or daughter the opportunity to take ownership of the process.