By Katie Lawrence, ESM Senior College Coach
With spring break now behind us and summer right around the corner, NOW is the time to start planning those college visits. This is a great opportunity to visit colleges, whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or even younger! It’s never too early to start learning about different colleges and seeing where might be a good place for you to spend four years. Here’s my four tips for campus visits:
1) Take LOTS of notes – Keep one notebook for all college “stuff” and/or one note on your phone for writing notes when you’re visiting. Write down what you like and don’t like about the school. Write down things that stand out to you, such as any conversations with students or your tour guides about what they like doing on campus, why they like attending the school, why they chose to attend there, (or why they don’t like it), etc. Here’s one suggestion that I always use: when you’re walking around campus, ask current students for directions to the admissions office, a class, the student center, where you can get a snack, etc …and when they hopefully say yes to offering you directions, ask them what they think about their experience as students. This not only helps you get great information/a real perspective from students on what it’s like to attend the school, but it also gives you another data point into what students are like at that school! All of these notes will not only help you form an opinion on whether or not you like the school, but they will also come in very handy when you write the “why do you want to attend this school” essay, which most schools require.
2) Prepare at least 2 questions for each school visit. Go on each school’s website before you visit the school and see what they focus on – is it their arts program? Their student-faculty ratio? What are the current students saying about the school on niche.com? This will not only help you get more out of each visit, but if you happen to get an admissions officer giving your tour or any time with them, they’ll almost always ask you if you have any questions (and you’ll look awesome, prepared, and interested when you do)! There’s always a chance that that individual could be the one reading your application, and if he/she remembers you positively, that’s HUGE!).
3) Be sure to always check in at the admissions office of each school you visit. This way, if you end up applying to this school, they’ll know that you visited the school, and it will help demonstrate that you’re really interested in the school (which is one of the primary admissions criteria). Also, find out who your school’s representative is, as this person will be the first person who reads your application and has a large say if you get in or not. Send them an email after you visit thanking for their time (if you met them) and introducing yourself if you did not, that you enjoyed your visit (and why), and ask them if they’ll be doing any informational events at your school/in your area (because you’d like to attend to learn more about the college).
4) Dress to impress! Dress as if you’re going out to a nice dinner with your family or going on a job interview. This might mean khaki or corduroy pants, a skirt (not super short), a button-down shirt, etc. No ripped jeans or anything you’d wear to the gym. Try to picture what it would be like if you were a current student there, in each environment. Take notes, reflect, and most of all, enjoy your visits!