It’s fall. The leaves are gradually beginning to fall of the trees, folks are starting to discuss Halloween costumes, and it’s prime season for visiting colleges. You see, many folks believe the best time to visit colleges is during the summer months. After all, students are off from school and parents can more easily use vacation days from work. But the problem with visiting colleges over the summer months is that at most highly selective schools, students simply aren’t on campus. What good is visiting a college if you can’t see and speak to students? Let’s face it — you’re not going to choose a college because the school has 65,000 books in its special collections library as opposed to another school that only has 48,000 books. That would be rather ridiculous. One of the key reasons you visit colleges is to get to know what kinds of young people attend these institutions, to see if you’d like them. So what are 3 things to do during college visits this fall?
Talk to Students
Duh. In order to get to know students at a given institutions, you should strongly consider talking to them. If you’re shy because you’re in high school and they’re in college, get over it. You’ll likely never see these kids again so put on your brave face. Ask them what they like about the school, what kinds of activities they’re involved in, what other schools they were considering when they were applying to college, etc. See what they have to say. If lots of students say they don’t like a school, that’s as good of an indication as any that maybe this school isn’t for you.
Wander off from the Tour
That’s right. Tour guides can offer quite a bit of information about a school but to really get a feel for an institution, go into a dining hall or a dorm. It’ll give you the chance to observe students. Do a lot of them have purple hair? Do you not like that? Are you someone who wishes to have purple hair? Ok, our purple hair example is quite silly but you get our point. Observe the students in their natural habitat rather than simply on the manicured tour, tours that often don’t pass through fraternity / sorority rows or even dining halls.
Write Down Specifics about the School
If you learn specifics about the institution from your tour guide or through your wanderings into dining halls, write down what you learn. Many colleges ask Why College questions and the name of the game in these types of essays is citing specific after specific about what you love about a school. We actually don’t ask our students at Ivy Coach to write down notes and that’s because the specifics our students cite on college essays are rarely part of the tour guide’s script. Rather, our students often teach admissions officers things they don’t know about their own school. Indeed, we give them marketing material for their school — marketing material we often see in essay prompts in subsequent years or even in the admissions office’s subsequent brochures. But it can never hurt to take notes on college tours and in your wanderings around campus, so carry a pen and pad! Or use your iPhone, but don’t forget to look up.
What are some other things that come to mind to do on college visits? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below.