College Visit Dos and Don'ts
Words, websites, and even extensive college research cannot replace your actual firsthand impressions of a school. Dr. Katherine Cohen, Founder and CEO of IvyWise and ApplyWise.com, recommends using the upcoming holiday weekend for college visits.
Holidays (such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents Day), spring break, and weekends are a perfect time to plan those college trips to visit campuses. As most college students are back at school following winter break, you will gain a true sense of what campus life is really like. However, DON'T forget to check in with the college and make sure that campus tours and information sessions are available on the days you choose to visit. Below are more campus visit dos and don'ts for students and parents from Dr. Kat and the expert counselors at IvyWise.
DO research the college beforehand and bring a checklist of your expectations and questions you want answered. Do some research about the school’s academic programs and facilities before your campus visit. This will allow you to focus on elements of the campus that you are most interested in.
DON'T be a passive listener. Be an engaging tour member by asking specific questions relating to your interests. We advise students to write questions down beforehand and bring them on the tour.
DON'T leave a campus tour without informing the tour guide ahead of time, but DO leave time to explore the campus on your own. Leaving abruptly can be distracting to other families on the tour. Not to mention, you may not hear important information about a college’s culture and unique opportunities that you can’t hear anywhere else. When you do have time to explore campus on your own, make time to have lunch in the school dining center, speak to a professor in your area of interest, sit in on a class, and explore the community that surrounds the campus.
DO introduce yourself to your admissions officer, but DON'T monopolize his or her time. Be prepared to have a brief, five-minute conversation about your interest in that particular school and be sure to ask one thoughtful, well-researched question. This is not an admissions interview, so don’t monopolize the admissions officer’s time with a long, drawn out discussion of your chances for admissibility. Admissions officers are very busy and you don’t want to come off as an annoyance.
DO send a thank you note to anyone you met during your visit. DON'T send thank you notes that your parents have written. A sincere email leaves a positive impression and may turn into a great relationship as you start applying to colleges.
Parents: DON'T ask too many questions but DO ask your child about his or her opinions after the campus visit. As this process is ultimately about your child, let them do the talking.
Come back next week for advice on what to do after you visit a college.