One of the great things about going to college is that you have many, many choices. In fact, high schoolers can be overwhelmed with the myriad of options when they try to decide on what colleges to apply to and eventually, which college to attend. Although we can utilize the internet to get lots of information, the best way to get a feel for a college is to visit it.
Image from Asian American News Bureau
Why should you do college visits?
- Visiting a campus is the best way to figure out whether you like the school and want to spend the next four years there. You get to see what the buildings look like, talk to current students and professors (they could answer your questions about academics or unique things like Quidditch clubs), and maybe sit in a class or eat at the dining hall.
- Some selective schools (like Washington University in St. Louis, Carnegie Mellon University ) take your “Demonstrated Interest” for them into account during the admissions process! Yes, they actually keep track of whether you visited them, signed up for their email list, whether you applied early or did an interview. The interest you show in attending their college might even help you get accepted. Here is a list of colleges that care about “Demonstrated Interest” and it is best to “show them your love” by visiting campus.
- You will have things to talk about in the “Why Us?” essays. Many colleges ask you to write an essay about why you want to attend their school. After your visit, you will have lots of stuff to talk about! Maybe that caring student who showed you around or the gorgeous trees on campus? Remember, detail is key! And it really tells the admissions people how much you would love going to their school.
However, you might want to say: “Hey Merrina, my family has no spare money to fly me all the way across the country to visit colleges. What should I do?”
Don’t worry! It is NOT an expectation to visit every college on your wish list. All you need is sufficient information that this is the school you want to attend and there are many other ways to accomplish this.
- Virtual Campus Visits
This is definitely an easy solution. Many colleges offer virtual tours so you can “see” the campus and hear the tour guide’s introduction without leaving your room!
- College Fly-in Programs/Diversity Programs
Many colleges want to offer students a chance to learn about their campuses and apply for admissions. What’s more exciting is that a lot of these fly-out programs are FREE for low income or minority students. That’s right, they pay for your plane tickets, food, and everything. So why not apply to a few? Maybe you will end up with a free trip and fall in love with the college of your dream!
Here is a section of the fly-in program list from College Greenlight. Please visit their website for the full list.
|College/University||Program Name||Application Due Date||Program Dates|
|Amherst College||Diversity Open Houses||May 14th to August 13th, 2018||September 22nd-24th; October 13th-15th|
|Barnard College||Barnard Bound||May 1st to June 1st, 2018||October 6th-8th|
|Bates College||Diversity & Inclusion||September 1st, 2018||October 7-9; October 28-30|
|Bowdoin College||Explore Bowdoin||May 1st to September 21st, 2018||September 20th-23rd; November 1st-4th, 2018|
|Brandeis University||Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity (SEED)||August 1st, 2018||November 1st-3rd, 2018|
|Bryn Mawr College||Travel Scholars||October 27th-29th, 2018||July 15th, 2018|
|Bucknell University||Journey to Bucknell||September 14th, 2018||November 4th-6th, 2018|
|Carleton College||Taste of Carleton||August 19th, 2018||Thursday, October 18th – Saturday, October 20th|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Celebration of Diversity Weekend||Mid-Fall 2018||November 3rd-5th, 2018; January 26th-28th, 2019|
|Case Western Reserve University||Diversity Overnight||TBD||November 11th-12th|
|Colby College||The Colby Commitment Experience||TBA (mid-August)||TBA (early October)|
|Colgate University||Colgate In Focus: A Diversity Open House||May 15th to September 8th, 2018||October 14th-16th|
|Colorado College||Experience Colorado College: Fall Visit Scholarship Program||April 20th to September 21st, 2018||October 27th-29th|
From College Greenlight
- Reach out to current students or admissions counselors
Sure, the internet can do a great job spitting out hard facts like acceptance rates and available majors, but if you want an insider view on the campus, the current students and admissions counselors are great people to ask your questions. They could give you an understanding of what campus life is like even if you are not physically there!
- Watch Youtube videos made by current students
This might not sound like a productive plan, but it actually works. Many students upload videos about campus life and their experiences. You get to learn about interesting things like weird school traditions. Those “A Day in the Life of a xxx College Student” videos by Crimson Education are also informative.
That is all for the Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2! I will share some tips on how to make the most of your college visit!
To learn about how to organize your college application process, see a list of schools that offer full ride scholarships and free mentoring programs for low-income students, please visit my previous article: “The College Application Timeline and Full-ride Scholarships.”
To learn about how to prepare and succeed in your college interviews, please visit my previous article: “How to ace the college admissions interview?”