College Visits and Tours
By visiting college campuses in person, you can make college application decisions with all five senses.
With so much information available about colleges, it would be easy to see the list of schools you’re interested in applying to top 20 or 30 colleges. Trying to narrow down your college choices so that you apply to the institutions that fit your personality and goals the best based solely on what you’ve heard or read can be difficult. By visiting campuses in person, you can make college application decisions with all five senses. At Going Ivy, our professional counselors can help you with your campus visit planning so you derive the most benefit from your visits and so that you are memorable to the admissions staff.
Using the Campus Visit to Your Advantage
The Going Ivy team is made up of graduates from some of the most elite schools in the country. We understand how important it is to choose a school that fits you. While the thousands of U.S. colleges and universities are well-respected and rigorous, they are each different in their individual cultures, campus neighborhood, pace and more. We can help you plan your visits and prepare for them so that you are better able to determine which school you want to attend, researching the institutions and planning questions to ask of students and staff while you’re there.
Why Visiting is Important
Since your chosen college will be where you live for four years, it is important that you choose the school at which you’ll be the happiest. You don’t want to go through the extreme effort of getting into an exclusive school only to find that just don’t feel like you’re home. This makes it very important that you don’t simply select a school because of its academics or reputation. In order for you to obtain a better picture of a college’s individual culture, it is important for you, whenever possible, to go there. You can then talk to the admissions staff and students, see what the housing is like, visit the library and eat in the dining hall. This can give you a more rounded perspective on the school.
Do Background Research Before Deciding to Visit a School
Before even deciding on which schools to visit, Going Ivy can help you narrow your list by researching the schools. You can learn a lot by reviewing a school’s website, reading its blog, checking out its social media pages and reviewing its campus newspaper and college brochures. If you see that the school is not very interactive with its students or doesn’t seem to have the right feel for you, then you can cross it off your school application and visiting list. This may allow you to reserve your visiting schedule for the schools that are most interesting to you.
Schedule Your Visit Ahead of Time
If you have the opportunity to visit a college, even if it’s during your family summer vacation after your sophomore year of high school — schedule it. Secure a spot on the college’s planned information session, and if you can request meetings with anyone beyond the generic tour, do it. If you schedule a tour toward the end of your junior year or into your senior year, you’ll want to let the college staff know that you will be applying or have applied. If the college allows interviews for applicants, this is a great opportunity that you should practice and prepare for.
Get Your Name on Your School’s Radar
All colleges work to protect their reputations, and one way they do this is by striving for a high yield percentage. A school’s yield is its percentage of admitted applicants who choose to attend, and it affects the rankings of colleges. When you visit a college and apply early, the school is likelier to believe that you are highly interested in attending, which may translate into your application getting a careful of perhaps more favorable look. You don’t want the school never to have seen your name before they see your application. Sign up for the school’s information list and social media posts. When you schedule your campus tour, make certain to ask for the name and contact information for the person who is designated for handling travel for students from your region. This person will likely be the first admissions officer who will review your application materials when you submit them. Follow up with this person after the tour with an email to ask additional questions and thank them for their time.
Get Beyond the Generic Tour
During your visit, you should plan to go beyond the simple student-led tour and information session. You should have come up with a list of questions that you have to ask during the information session so that you can elicit more information about the school, what it offers and what it is like to attend. In addition, most schools will let you sit through a class in your interest area if you give them advance notice and coordinate it with the proper people. It is also a good idea to eat in the dining hall so that you can get an idea of how the students interact with each other. Many schools offer more formal welcome sessions with a organized day or overnight visit to the campus for high school juniors or seniors. These visits are helpful as you make your decision to apply and can offer great material for your application, but you must register for them in advance.
Don’t be afraid to ask students about what it is like to attend the school. If you’re visiting with your parents, split up for at least a few minutes to get your individual impression of the campus and where you’d be comfortable meeting friends, reading, grabbing a quick snack, or getting some exercise.
If you are planning to visit several universities, we recommend that you not visit more than two in a day. You will need to give yourself enough time on each campus to get a feel of what it is like. When you visit, use your phone to keep track of your observations and take pictures to help trigger memories later, but don’t be on your phone around the admissions staff.
Getting Help from Going Ivy
Our expert counselors can explain what we have experienced at the different institutions, and what you might look for or ask about on your visits. We also understand that not everyone will be able to visit schools in person, so we offer a virtual reality tour by using Oculus Rift and 3D technology. We can also help you to plan your questions in advance and schedule your visits so that you can get the most benefit out of them. To learn more about our services, contact us today.
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