At this time of year, most seniors have narrowed down their list of prospective colleges and plan to tour as many as possible. To get the most out of your tour, you need to develop a touring strategy. Here are my suggestions for devising an effective tour:
- Schedule your visit in advance. Each college posts its touring schedule on its website. Pick your date and sign up for an official tour. You should plan on spending enough time there to not only complete the official tour but to include things like eating a meal in a dining hall, sitting in on a class, meeting with a professor or a coach, walking around campus on your own, picking up a student newspaper, looking at the bulletin boards around you, and even interviewing if that is an on-campus option.
- Bring a list of questions to ask your admission counselor. The best way to get a feel for each college is to ask the same questions on each tour. Some topics to consider are:
• College dorms: size, location, age of the building, co-ed vs. single sex
• Student-teacher ratio, location of classes (amphitheater vs. small group), and who teaches them (professor vs. graduate student)
• Social life on campus
• Available activities (clubs, Greek life, sports)
• Any other information that interests you
- Show demonstrated interest in each college. Some schools track something called “demonstrated interest,” which essentially means that they are paying attention to whether or not you are paying attention to them. While there are various ways to demonstrate your interest in a school, none is more critical than the campus visit. Many colleges look closely at data that clearly shows that students who visit are much more likely to accept an offer of admission.
- Video the visit with your cell phone. Use your phone to help you keep images and information learned from the tour easily accessible. Record the visit so you can scroll through afterward and refresh your memory about the college, primarily focusing on the answers to questions asked.
- Take notes about each college you visit. It isn’t easy to keep the information you learn about each college straight after you have been to several schools over some time. The best thing to do is take notes. Prepare a spreadsheet with topics (many will come from your list of questions) and gather as much info as possible while on tour. After each tour, fill in the information on the spreadsheet. Once you return home, you will have the information at your fingertips for easy comparison.
- Visit ALL colleges on your list. It is essential to visit a college and tour the campus. Whenever possible, conduct the tour BEFORE applying. If that is not possible, visit during your senior year to “demonstrate interest” and see the campus in person. Online tours are an excellent first step but are not a substitute for an in-person tour.
- Do you have a favorite sport? Pair your visit with a college sports game.Some colleges have tremendous sports programs, and their fans’ energy and spirit at a league or playoff game can be an exciting experience. If you play the sport you are watching; you can ascertain the level of play to determine if you would be a good match for the team.
If you have any questions about selecting a college, creating your list of colleges or the admissions process, please contact us or 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!
President, Prep 4 College Now, Inc.