Planning your college visits over Spring Break can be harrowing (and if someone is doing it for you, be infinitely thankful to that person!). There are so many logistical details to cover that it’s a relief when the itinerary is finally worked out without breaking the bank or spending countless hours driving through nowhere.
Visit Goals. Many students stop planning once their itinerary has been created. However, as a Junior in high school (or a Sophomore if you’re getting a big head start) your work is not done. Unlike the Senior visit where you’ve already been admitted and you’re just deciding what you want to do, the visits before you apply have dual purposes.
That first goal breaks down into a couple of subgoals:
The second one is interesting because schools will consider your interest in their school in evaluating your application. If they admit you, they want to know whether or not you will attend. In order to gauge that, they evaluate what they call “Demonstrated Interest”. Given your actions and what you write in your essays, do they believe that you are genuinely interested in matriculating, or is that school just an afterthought for you? The most obvious way to demonstrate your interests is to apply Early Decision, which requires you to commit to enrolling if you are admitted. But short of that, when you visit the school, do your best to establish a relationship so they know of your interest.
Therefore, always sign up for the Admissions Office Information Sessions and the Guided School Tour. That gets your name into their records and let’s them know you are interested enough to visit. The caveat here is that many schools don’t offer Info Sessions and/or Tours on weekends so you have to manage the logistics of your trip accordingly. By establishing this relationship you’re stepping up to the next level. For schools where you are genuinely interested in applying, it’s worth the effort to at least meet the admissions officer responsible for your region of the country(google them before and send them a little note mentioning you will be visiting and how it would be great to meet them). It is often the case that this same person will visit your high school(if they do visit), and also this person will often be among the first readers of your application.
A Simple Checklist
To help you accomplish all of this, here is a checklist for your College Tour:Pre-Visit (several weeks in advance of your planned trip):
During your visit:
Post-Visit: Have a way of recording your impressions immediately. It sounds easy, but after a few schools they will often blur together. This will be especially true if you’re on the two-colleges-a-day-every-day-for-a-week schedule.
Have a great trip!