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Spring Break: So Many Colleges, So Little Time

Posted on 03/12/2018, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments)


At colleges across the nation, admission offices are bracing themselves for an onslaught of visitors.  Like salmon swimming upstream to spawn, hordes of junior families migrate to college campuses during spring break. If your family will be embarking on a grand tour of colleges in April, now is the time to make your plans.

What’s the Point?

What should you hope to accomplish?

Hopefully, you and your teen have researched colleges online, have identified a number of potential matches and are heading to campuses to see them first hand. The goal of your grand tour of schools is to eliminate some colleges from further consideration and elevate a few to the status of serious contenders.

What should the preliminary visit include?

At a minimum, you should plan to attend an information session and campus tour, each of which typically lasts about an hour. The information session, given by an admissions officer, typically provides general information about the school, emphasizes any distinguishing features, and addresses the admissions and financial aid processes.

The campus tour, by contrast, is usually conducted by a student and focuses more on the non-academic aspects of college life. That's your teen's chance to get a feel for the campus culture. Is it the kind of school where everyone goes to the football games - or where poetry slams draw a capacity crowd? 

Spring break is a great opportunity to get a first look at several colleges, but the crowds of other high school students and parents can make it difficult to get a true feel for the campus during a typical school week. To do that, it's ideal to plan a second visit to a few campuses that are at the top of your child's list. Stroll around the campus, eat in a dining hall, arrange for your child to sit in on a class, take in a soccer game or a play. If you’re there on a weekend, check out the student center on Friday or Saturday night and try to get a feel for what students do on the weekends.  Are there lots of different activities or does the campus empty out? Does it feel safe at night?

Get Credit

Whether you’re visiting campus for the first time or the third, your child should always sign in at the admissions office. Many colleges now factor an applicant’s demonstrated interest in the college into their admissions decisions, and a strong marker of demonstrated interest is visiting the campus. In a similar vein, some college applications ask students to write a short essay on why the student is interested in that school. It's always a good idea for her to mention that she visited the campus and then describe what she liked about it.

Happy touring!

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Posted on 03/12/2018, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments) « Previous Entry    Next Entry »

 

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