AO Advice: How to Research and Tour Colleges During COVID-19
For Parents & Guardians: Former Admissions Officer Brian will share his best practices when it comes to researching, touring, and identifying best-fit colleges during the pandemic.
2022-02-24 AO Advice: How to Research and Tour Colleges During COVID-19
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar AO Advice: How to Research and Tour Colleges During COVID-19. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi everyone. Good evening. My name is Brian and I am excited to be talking with you all tonight. A little bit about how to go about researching, uh, colleges, um, in this crazy time, uh, that we live in. Um, I am a mission, uh, former admission officer and a former AO with college advisor.
I’ve been with the company since I believe about may of last year on and previously, uh, worked for. [00:01:00] Eight years in college Admissions. two of those, um, being at Regis college, which is just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and then six of those, um, as an assistant director at Boston university on, I have a BA in politics from Saint Anselm college, which is in Manchester, New Hampshire, I’m from New Hampshire.
Um, and then I also earned my MBA while I was working at BU so proud, uh, terrier as well. I’m so excited to be chatting with you all tonight. Um, and, uh, we’re gonna have a great country. Nice. Nice. Thank you for sharing Brian. So before we get into our content for this evening, we want to start first with a poll.
So we want to get a sense of what grade are you in. So please choose your response now. And Brian, as we’re waiting, you know, do you think back to, you know, what, what made you decide [00:02:00] politics for your undergrad? Yeah. So, um, my, uh, father, uh, took me, you know, growing up in New Hampshire, kind of have really truthfully a front row seat to, to, uh, politics once every four years.
And I was in sixth grade. My father took me, uh, to see a candidate speak, um, at natural high, in the 2000 election. And from then on, I was hooked. Um, so it was his fault. Um, and then, you know, this is really, uh, kind of nerdy and dorky and kind of cliche, but I also fell in love with the show, the west wing, um, and just wanted to be everyone on that show.
Um, and, uh, so kind of ended up going in that direction, um, but also love studying history. So it kind of also played in that. Nice. Nice. Well, thank you so much for sharing. I’m sure it [00:03:00] inspired, you know, some of our participants is evening. Uh, so as far as like gray levels, we have about 62% are in the 11th grade and then followed by that we have the rest of our participants are in 10th grade.
So you have 11th and 10th grade students tonight. It’s for all of you, they’re in 10th and 11th grade. And you know, if you’re not mom or dad check out the west wing, it’s a great show. Uh, you might learned something, um, it’s a little dated because it was filmed in the early two thousands, but, uh, it’s, it’s really fun.
Um, so to jump into our content for tonight, um, you know, I think that first and foremost, when is a good time, uh, to begin researching schools, um, you know, obviously this is kind of a tongue in cheek, but no better time than the president. I think that on, you know, it’s always a good time to kind of check in and, and start that process.
I personally, especially as a former college admission advisor and knowing that, [00:04:00] uh, remember when it was like to be in high school and everything that is going on, I do believe that there is such a thing as quote unquote too soon, you know? And what I mean by that is really jumping into like the really intensive our process.
Um, you know, every once in a while, when I was at BU and at Regis, even we would have, you know, groups of like middle schoolers come and tour. And I think that’s a little aggressive. What I will say that it’s never too soon is to encourage people to learn about college, um, and expose them to the idea that.
You know, an opportunity and option for them, right? That’s it’s never too soon for that. I was lucky enough myself to grow up in a household where it was never a question, whether I was going to go to college. Um, and I’m very privileged to have had that experience. Um, but that’s not the case for everyone.
And so exposing folks to college is always a good idea, but when you [00:05:00] really want to start researching and thinking about yourself, Where do I want to apply? Where do I want to attend? What do I, you know, all of that good stuff. I think, you know, the sophomore spring going into that, summer’s a really good intro time to kind of get a sense of what’s going on.
Get a sense of campuses, maybe even truthfully do a drive-through. Um, you know, this was something that I think, you know, I also was exposed to as a young, at a young age because my mother is a school counselor, high school counselor. And so no joke on family vacations, we would drive through college campuses from a very early age for me.
So I was exposed to that very early. And I think that that does add value because even just driving through. You get a little bit of a sense of what the culture of that campus might be like. Um, you know, what, uh, you maybe see some students walking around, um, you see the buildings you see, um, you know, in an urban layout, like a Boston university, or, [00:06:00] um, is it much more suburban and rural?
Like, you know, my Alma mater St. Anselm is very, very two very different institutions, one in kind of a suburban or rural area, the other, uh, in the middle of the city. So getting a good sense of kind of what the, the campus itself is like. And then I would say junior spring going into the summer. That’s really, maybe when you want to start cranking up some of those, um, college visits.
Official visits, doing an info session, doing a tour, getting a sense of what that campus has to offer on. Maybe you’re attending some college fairs on, you know, uh, and, and this will get into obviously, and kind of what’s different in this environment. Um, but college fairs still do exist, even if they might be in a little bit of a different scenario.
Um, and then, you know, as a former admission officer, once something I used to do and you all may know or not know this, but, um, I would travel the high schools [00:07:00] on and I would go and do what we call high school visits. And I would meet with, you know, anywhere from, you know, sometimes only a couple of students to upwards of 50 or 60 students, you know, in the cafeteria or the auditorium and talk to them about our, our university.
So. Most schools only allow seniors and juniors, some do, uh, sprinkle in all four years or maybe some sophomores. But if there’s a school that you think you’re interested in, that you want to, um, we’re in a little bit more about never a better time than to learn straight from the source and someone that works there and, and reads the applications and on has, has all that information and we’re coming right to you, uh, right into your own backyard.
So, um, always a good opportunity to do that when, when that’s the case, um, when we’re looking or when you’re looking, I should say to build your college list, there’s a variety of different factors that go into making this decision and kind of building it out. [00:08:00] Um, I’ve listed here just a couple of really broad examples on there are roughly 4,000 plus colleges, universities in the United States alone.
And so, um, One way to really start paying these down is to think about, you know, location, you know, do I want to go to school close to home? Do I want to be nowhere near home? Um, in-state as state, et cetera, you know, so for me being someone from new England, I knew that I wanted to stay in new England and probably, you know, pretty close to home.
Um, you know, that’s not the case for everyone. Um, and so, you know, kind of decided what part of the country you might want to be in is a really, uh, good first step size, you know, small, medium, large, um, you know, again, uh, using myself as an example, um, you know, St Anselm college has roughly 18, 1900 students.
Um, [00:09:00] whereas, uh, Boston university has roughly 18,000 undergraduate students. Um, so very, very different, uh, size of the student body, uh, again, different, um, You know, physical location. Um, as I mentioned earlier, you also want to think about academic offerings. If you know what you want to study, you’re going to want to see if that school has the major that you’re you’re off, uh, or the major that you’re interested in, or also, are you interested being more of a research institution versus a liberal arts school?
You know, are you interested in having that, um, you know, core curriculum background in the humanities, um, you know, what’s the cost of the institution always going to play an important role. What’s the profile of admitted student academics. So, you know, understanding, you know, am I, uh, academically admissible, uh, to set institution, um, and then, you know, our athletics or extracurricular is going to be important to you.
Are you looking to play [00:10:00] on, you know, collegiate athletics? And if so, are you looking at place to D one D two D three level, all of these things are going to help you narrow down that list? Um, ultimately the academic profile within the. Going to play one of the most important, um, roles in, in S in the sense of, you know, should you pro should you apply or not?
Um, you know, I think that other than maybe cost the should on is kind of, you know, pretty subjective in terms of location or size or academic offerings. Uh, you know, that’s not really a should or shouldn’t, um, but in terms of academic profile, and we’ll get into this, um, in a moment you want to make sure that that school is a good fit for you, and you’re a good fit for.
So what are some ways to kind of help, um, with this process, speaking with admission counselors, folks like myself, um, at the college or university, um, and you can do this in a variety of different ways. Um, you [00:11:00] can email them, you can, uh, call the admission offices. Obviously you can speak with them. If you choose to visit the schools that we talked about previously, or like I said, when we come to a college fair, we come to your high school, you know, come and speak with us directly at that time.
Um, I would always be a little sad when I would go to a high school visit. And they’re only a handful or maybe even no students waiting. Um, you know, it’s a great opportunity for us to interact with those students and answer all of your questions, um, speak with your school counselor. Um, that’s really one of the main things that they’re there for is to assist you in that process.
Um, and they are a true wealth of knowledge on, you know, one of the things that almost would happen at every single school. In addition to speaking with those students is I would always update one of the counselors, what was going on with the school, what our profile of the previous year was where some of the big programs we wanted to highlight any changes, anything like that.
And so they really hear a lot of information from the different colleges and universities [00:12:00] on this is obviously doing research, but there’s also other ways that you can do research. And, uh, we’ll get into that, uh, in just a minute here.
So COVID-19, um, has obviously affected a lot of us in a variety of different ways and no, uh, No stranger to this has been colleges, universities opt for the, for, for the, uh, big, big time. Um, you know, they really have been at the forefront of kind of some of the COVID-19 changes and challenges. Um, obviously, you know, if you remember, um, you know, back to two years ago, it was really, um, colleges and universities that kind of in many ways, if you think about it started this kind of, um, locked down, kind of closing, um, culture, you know, um, some of the schools started sending their students home, um, you know, the cancellation of the NCA March madness tournament and kind of snowballed from there.
Um, and, and so colleges and universities have really [00:13:00] reacted, um, and, and plan. And changed some of, many of their major operations around this. Um, over the course of the last couple of years, in many cases, students obviously were not on campus. Um, you know, emission offices were closed. Um, you could not tour, you could not visit, um, you know, colleges and universities, which in many cases you think of a school, like a Boston university.
For those again that have been there, you know, Calm app is a main thoroughfare, but it’s a public area. Um, in many ways that those were public buildings, um, previously, um, you know, these universities really closed their doors to the public, um, for obviously health and safety reasons on. And so they weren’t offering tours, they weren’t offering opportunities.
Um, and so one of the big, obviously initial moves was to move all of this to a virtual space. Um, you know, they had virtual tours, they had virtual high school visits, virtual information [00:14:00] sessions, um, via zoom or other platforms. Um, and you know, these are obviously not the most ideal, um, you know, in terms of, you know, getting information and you would like to see things firsthand.
Um, but you know what, we, everyone was doing the best that they could. And. As someone that used to do this, um, you know, and, and, um, traveled, um, now in, in my current job, um, quite a bit, um, or used to, I should say, um, we definitely miss it and, and, you know, college admission reps would much rather be talking to the students in person and having in-person, uh, high school visits.
Um, but again, we do this all for the health and safety of, you know, everyone. Um, and so I think that one thing that I, you know, will put my former emission officer hat on, um, is, is really to say, I think I may be addressed this later in the [00:15:00] presentation, but I’ll address it now because it’s top of mind, you know, being patient, um, and understanding with these colleges and universities, they’re in many cases, they’re doing the best they can on in many cases, these are not.
Rules on that they came up with, but the university at large on that is being that is implementing them. Um, so just being open and patient, um, with these folks, um, is, is always good and, and, and helpful and encouraged, and they appreciate it on, but campuses in some cases. And, and, and I should have said this at the very beginning, you know, a lot of this presentation will be some kind of gross generalities.
Cause obviously I can’t speak for every single college and university across the country. Everyone’s going to have a slightly different approach to this, but generally speaking, I think that many campuses, um, again, have gone to this in some cases of virtual most, if not all, have now [00:16:00] moved back to an in-person, um, environment and many are inviting visitors back to campus.
Um, But they might not be as open as they were previously. You may not be able to get a tour as regularly. They may not be offering quite as many. There may be a size, um, capacity, right. You know, for info session that you could’ve used to be able to cram, you know, 130, 140 folks into a, uh, visitor center, you know, they might be only offering 50% capacity.
Um, and so, you know, again, being patient planning ahead, um, I know, you know, again, when I was at BU we would encourage folks to look, you know, weeks, sometimes even months in advance about, um, booking out, you know, their, their college visits as, as you know, kind of crazy and silly as that might sound. He might want to look ahead, but definitely calling the office, emailing them going on their [00:17:00] website, that’s going to be the best resource to find out what the individual school that you’re looking at is doing on, but that’s something to be mindful of.
So where should you start your college process? And again, this goes a little bit back to that research I was talking about. There’s a lot of different ways that you can do research. And one of the tools, um, is that a college advisor offers is what we call our college hub. Um, and this is a really great resource, um, that, uh, has information on over 2000 schools across the country.
So, uh, a wide variety of schools, um, and, and most of the, the top and most popular institutions on, and it provides a lot of different information and actually a ranking system. Um, the ranking comes from an outside, uh, Methodology through a company called niche on that uses a variety of different, uh, factors, [00:18:00] including, you know, the academics offered at the institution, what they call the academic value.
Um, so incorporating statistics, such as average loan amount, alumni earnings, student surveys regarding value on, and they factor in the faculty at the institution. They give it a campus grade. Um, they factor into the diversity of the institution, the student life opportunity, the local area, um, and safety.
These are all a variety of the different factors that are built into that grade, um, that they have. On, and then there’s a lot of different data and information about emission statistics and that information that is up there now currently is pulled from the 20, 20, um, applicant, uh, cycle. Um, and so, uh, that is a couple years removed from, uh, in terms of it has things like the average GPA, how many students applied to that institution?
What was the admit rate, things of that nature. Um, [00:19:00] and, and most schools and colleges do update this on their own individual websites. So, um, you know, here I say, you can always go to the school website itself, um, and, and get the information directly from the source. Um, but this is a good, uh, the college advisor college hub is a good, uh, broad net to start with also using, uh, websites like the college board website and us news and world report.
Um, these have really good, uh, information, uh, general information about. Again, the campus faculty offerings, academic offerings, all the different majors on what they’re known for, um, cost, um, a variety of different statistics. I personally, um, I’ve talked about this in other webinars, I’ve done it ruffled a couple of feathers and got people a little confused.
I personally am not a huge fan of the ranking system of us news and world report in terms of, um, I think it pushes folks to think, oh, I [00:20:00] got to go a top 20 top 25 institution and not look at any others. But with that being said, and the methodology that goes behind that, but with that said, it offers all a lot of really good information, um, and factual information and statistics that are pulled from, uh, reports like iPads and the schools on individual websites themselves.
Separate from the ranking system itself. Um, us news offers a lot of really good data, um, for that. Um, also talk to the professionals. I’ve talked about this already. Um, but talk to us at college fairs. Talk to us at high school visits, go to the school website. Um, talk to us when you’re on campus, email us, call us.
That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to give you the information about the individual schools that the college, uh, emission officers work at. And that’s, again, that’s what we’re paid to do. That’s what we want to do on. And so, uh, you know, take us up on that information [00:21:00] on, and I would G again, this is a generalization, but I would generally avoid, you know, message boards and, and, and areas where people are posting their own information about, you know, colleges, statistics and things like that.
Um, there’s just a lot of misinformation out there on, and so going to accredited sites, like, you know, I feel confident in saying college advisor college hub is a good one. I feel confident in the college board, I feel confident in the data that the U S news is reporting. I feel confident in the data that a school is going to post on their website about themselves.
Um, go to those sources, um, and try to avoid, you know, some of the other, uh, areas that there might be some misinformation out there because that’s just going to lead to confusion.
And I think we have another poll here, Ronnie. So I’ll let you, uh, take that away from, yeah. So speaking of where to start in the college application process, we want to get a sense of where are [00:22:00] you. I know that we have mostly, uh, 11th and 10th grade students. So share with us. Have you, are you in a place where you, maybe you haven’t started?
So after this evening, you’re going to already have some resources and tools on how to get started. Are you researching, perhaps you might be getting an early start on working on essays or even, you know, thinking about how you can get your application materials. So let us know. Okay. So, so far, which we’ve kind of predicted, uh, we have about 60% of our participants are in the research.
They’re researching their schools. Um, we have a few that haven’t started and then we also have a few who are getting an early start on working on their essays. So I’ll turn it back over to you, Brian. Nice. That’s, that’s definitely a healthy place. Um, I think for the majority of us to be, um, and so kudos, um, for all of you that are already starting that research.
Um, that’s great. Um, and you know, again, [00:23:00] because the vast majority of us are in 10th and 11th grade, as I talked about earlier as a really healthy place, um, to be starting the process. Um, so when we are building our, our college list, um, one thing that you might hear a lot about, um, in terms of, um, you know, schools to apply to is this safety target reach kind of category.
Um, and it is a good, uh, way to think about the schools that you’re applying to, because it allows us to really strategize. And when I say us, we, I mean, the applicant that people involved in the individual applicants process, it allows you to strategize. What schools and what type of schools you should be applying to and how many are in that range.
So typically it speaks to the confidence level, um, that a college applicants should have, um, you know, or a feeling about being admitted to X college or university, [00:24:00] um, that they are applying to. Um, this is very, very, very important. Um, this is not a generalization, this is true. Um, but it is different from every single applicant.
Okay. Um, the safety target reach category of my application process was very different than the safety target reach application of my best friends, um, of my sister when she went through the process. So, um, You know, is really important to think about your individual process and how you are going to be standing out at these individual schools.
So, I mean, safety target and reach. It probably makes a fair amount of sense of what these categories are, but a safety is going to be a school that you feel, you know, really very strongly that you’re going to be admitted. Um, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a good indicator of your abilities. They have, you know, a pretty high admission rate [00:25:00] on your, you know, they’re probably admitting more than 50% of their class already.
Anyway. And you just feel really strongly about, um, being admitted at this institution. Um, again, that can be different for a variety of different people. Um, target, you feel moderately confident about the, uh, admission here. You know, you feel like you match the profile on, you know, if, if a school says that, you know, last year, the average GPA of an admitted student that they, that they admitted was a 3.5.
Um, and you know, the average, uh, standardized test score, if, if, if it was submitted was, you know, uh, uh, 1300, um, and you have a 3.6 and, you know, a 1320, you feel pretty good. That’s a good match for you. You fall within that range. Um, you can even say that, you know, a 3.6 and, and, and a 1280, um, at that same hypothetical school would be a [00:26:00] target.
You know, you’re in the range, you’re in the ballpark. You feel moderately. Um, a reach would be a school that you are a little bit more uncertain about. Um, again, that same, uh, You know, hypothetical institution that had a profile of a three, five and a 1300, you know, maybe you’re a student that has a three P uh, you have the sat score, but you have a third, uh, 3.2 GPA or a 3.0 GPA.
You know, it’s a little bit beyond, you know, the admitted student is a little bit beyond where you fall. Um, and therefore, you know, you’re a little bit outside the average student that’s applying. Um, and, and that might be what quantifies it being a reach for you. The other thing that is important to note about reach is that really truthfully, I believe that most schools within the U S news and where you’re pulling back that, um, category within the top 50, you know, these are [00:27:00] very selective institutions really fall in that reach category.
For the vast majority of students. Um, and the reason why I say that is that all of these schools are, have selective admission rates below 25%. So by definition, if they are admitting less than a 25% or one out of every four applicants, you know, how can you possibly feel like you have a moderately confident, um, you know, uh, idea of being admitted.
Now you may be saying to me, Brian, um, yes, but I have the academic statistics or I exceed the average applicant, um, admission rate, um, profile of, of these institutions. That may be true. Um, but when you’re dealing with institutions that again, have a very selective admission rate, even if you feel like you meet the academic profile, they’re just a variety of different factors that go into, you know, um, [00:28:00] emitting and, and building out these classes, especially at an institution that has a really high volume of applicants, you know, it’s just really challenging.
And so I think that it’s important to think of these types of schools, um, as reach for most applicants on. And then obviously, you know, I would say that that schools, you know, the, the most selective institutions, the top 10, top 15, you know, the Ivy and sub Ivy institutions really should always be thought of as reach.
Um, again for all applicants. Um, you know, I’ve, I’ve had, I’ve worked through my time at college advisor this year. Unbelievably talented students on and you know, it’s, it’s still reach, um, you know, when they’re applying to some of these most selective institutions, you know, some of them have, you know, four or 5% acceptance rates.
So it’s just, it’s really hard to, to know, um, you know, where you fall, uh, [00:29:00] there. So I think building a collection of these is always good. Yeah. Having a solid list of safeties, um, having a good group of target schools and, and throwing out a couple of reach, you know, 2, 3, 4, you know, uh, reaches, uh, is, is okay.
It’s, that’s, um, that’s doable, but it’s really important to have, um, you know, uh, at least a handful of safeties, um, a good, you know, the vast majority of, of your schools should probably be in that target category. Um, so that you feel good about your emission decisions. It doesn’t come to be, you know, March, um, wait, March and early April, and you’re really still scrambling on to, to find, um, a school that you’ve, you’ve been admitted to.
So, how do you know, um, again, what if you, if he finished his and I, I kinda got a little bit ahead of myself here, but you know, you’re evaluating [00:30:00] your own emissions statistics. You’re evaluating your GPA, you’re evaluating the strength of your curriculum. You’re evaluating your standardized test scores. If you took them, if you want to submit them, if your school requires them.
Um, and I’ll get to that in a second. Um, but uh, also thinking about, you know, the type of. Portfolio that you’re putting forward the profile of you, what you’re involved in, what you have to say, what you have to contribute to the institution that is important. But I do think that the vast majority of how you should think about this is through a pretty quantitative lens on that is the easiest way to match yourself with another institution.
Um, it’s hard for us to qualitatively and subjectively match with what the ideals quote unquote of an institution may be. Um, it’s much easier to look at the admission rate of the previous year, the profile of the previous class, again, [00:31:00] of the class that was admitted. What was the average GPA? What was the adverse, uh, average standardized test score?
Um, do they provide the middle 50% of admitted students and what their test scores were on? Do you fall within that range or, or not? Um, and that can kind of help you again, decide how am I safe? Am I in the safety? Am I in the target or is this really, truly a reach school for me? Um, and, and, and be honest with yourself.
Because you’re only setting yourself up for, for a challenging time if you’re not. Um, and one of the factors that goes into this again is, is, and I alluded to this is your rigor. Um, so the type of courses that you’ve been evaluated, you’ve been taking, um, you know, the English, math, science, social science, foreign language, core classes.
Um, I think most competitive and selective schools are looking for three to four years and all of those, um, with some honors and advanced courses like [00:32:00] AP or IB, you know, sprinkled in there and utilize and taking advantage of where available and where appropriate. Um, you know, I think that, you know, if a school doesn’t offer certain courses, obviously you’re not going to be penalized for not taking those.
Um, but you know, if they were offered to you and you didn’t take advantage of it, um, you know, you gotta figure factor that into kind of the strength of your overall profile academic. And then lastly, um, from a standardized test perspective, you know, there’s a lot of, um, talk right now about, you know, should I submit my standardized tests act, sat?
What have you. And, and I think it comes down to this, um, look at the average sat or the middle 50% of the standardized tests that the school had from the previous year. If you fall in that range, or if you fall above the average, you probably should submit your test or feel good about submitting your tests because it will [00:33:00] enhance your application potentially you’re above average of the previous costs.
If you fall below that, my opinion is that under no circumstances, should you submit those test scores? Um, you are showing that you are in the previous emission class, a below 50% applicants. Um, now. Emission stats change definitely year over year. Um, but my point of contention would be why put yourself, um, you know, why put out a score that shows that you’re in that bottom 50% if it’s not required.
Um, and that’s where a lot of schools are falling with their standardized tests, you know, it’s not required. Um, it is, they are test optional. Um, and so evaluating that I think is important on, and there are some schools, um, college and universities that evaluate the qualitative piece even a little bit more heavily than others.
Um, you know, [00:34:00] maybe they have a lower applicant pool and, and therefore they’re really able to dive into that qualitative piece or they’re a smaller school. And they really want to think about, okay, how does this student shape, you know, my, my college campus or my university campus, um, you know, and, and things of that nature.
So, um, and then, you know, one thing that I even get into, um, is things like art scores or athletics that throws all of this in a very, very different category, especially athletics. Um, and that’s not really the point of, of, of this particular presentation. Um, so I am not gonna spend time on that tonight. Um, But I think, you know, when we’re talking about visiting schools and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve advocated for this, I think it’s really important to, to go and visit schools.
Um, you weren’t a lot or you weren’t a lot. Um, I mean, one of the most [00:35:00] obvious is just the physical landscape, um, of, of the campus on you see the location where, you know, again, rural, suburban, urban, um, you know, you, you see the buildings, the physical architecture on set gives off a certain sense of, of, of, uh, Ah, or, you know, awareness.
I mean, truthfully, you know, there’s, there’s some really beautiful college campuses out there. Um, and they give off a certain, uh, aura for, for real, um, as, as nerdy as that may sound, um, you, you know, typically on its college tour, you’re going to see things like classrooms, the dining hall, the residence hall.
Because of COVID some schools, um, and universities have started to limit some of the access to these areas. Maybe you can’t actually sit in on a class any longer or actually eat in the dining hall. Um, [00:36:00] we’re see a lived in residence. Um, you know, so that again is going to be a case by case basis. Um, but generally speaking, you know, getting a sense of where you’re going to study, live, eat, play, you know, do all the things that you’re going to do for four years, I think is really important.
Um, you also get a sense of the culture of the school by visiting. This is done in a variety of different ways. I think that, you know, the physical. Being of a campus gives officer in a sense of culture. Um, and you get that from just kinda walking around. Um, and I’ll be honest, there were some schools that I visited that, you know, no sooner did we pull on a campus and park that car that I was like, get me the heck out of here.
I do not want to continue with this visit. Um, and, and that’s okay too. Um, you know, you’re gonna have some gut reactions, um, during these visits. Um, and so that’s important to, to [00:37:00] experience if you can. Um, but anecdotal stories that you hear from students, um, you meet on tour that you hear in your information session, just walking around campus, listening to the conversations happening.
That’s all good too. And I think that, you know, what’s unique about where we are in this COVID environment is that. Um, some of this doesn’t exist as strongly as it would if you were in person. Um, but schools have on many of them had virtual offerings previously that, you know, um, you know, to appeal from students that maybe couldn’t travel to campus because of, you know, the geographic distance or the financial burden of doing so now it’s open to everyone.
Um, and so those virtual environments are, are much more plentiful, um, regardless, and it’s easier to learn about the campus, I think, than it ever was before. And so that’s one of the benefits of this, [00:38:00] you know, schools are posting videos and stories of students, um, of faculty, of, um, admission counselors, all kinds of stuff, um, for, to help you, uh, learn about the school.
And so that’s great. Um, So I think that, you know, learning about if they offer the virtual visit or what their visit situation is typically, it’s going to be highlighted on their website, um, and going to that resource, um, directly is going to be your best bet on. Every school, you know, they want you to come visit or they want you to know about their school.
Um, so that’s where they’re gonna, they’re gonna have the most up-to-date information. Um, obviously calling, emailing the school is always going to be a good option. Um, again, uh, when I was working in admissions at both institutions, and then even when I was a student, a tour guide, um, at St. Anton, you know, we had, um, what we [00:39:00] call counselor of the day.
Um, and so that the job of the counselor of the day, um, in addition to answering any, you know, walking questions, um, is to answer the phones, um, that, that, and questions that get escalated to them and answer emails. Um, and so there’s always going to be someone that is available, uh, to talk to, and answer your questions.
And that’s, what’s really important, that’s their job. Um, and so that’s what. Um, when you’re building out and researching your schools and you’re building out your lists, you know, you have your, your safeties, you have your targets, you have your reach, you know, how many is the right number? Again, it’s very personal.
Um, it’s very individual based. There’s no right absolute number for, for every single person. When I was applying to colleges, I only applied to three. That’s a pretty low number. Um, I think that’s pretty abnormal at this point. Um, unless you’re, you know, uh, you know, a specific [00:40:00] recruit or something of that nature, um, But it’s very individual.
I think it’s based on a variety of different factors that we’ve already mentioned and covered pretty extensively. And in doing your research, um, and again, having a good foundation of safety targets and a handful of reaches. Um, but I would say the current average is about nine, you know, that’s, I think what we’re, um, schools are seeing and we’re hearing, um, in industry, um, but there’s no right or wrong answer.
Um, again, I’ve, I’ve worked with, uh, some, some clients that have, you know, about that a few less and, and some far, frankly, far more, um, than that, um, there are also some, uh, you know, applications such as the Cal system that, you know, you can apply one application applies to every. In the system. Um, and so, you know, I don’t know how you would factor that in, in terms of, you know, how many schools you’re actually applying [00:41:00] to.
Um, but, uh, you know, there’s, there’s some factors to be considered in terms of, you know, when you’re actually doing the application, the time it takes to do it, the essays that you have to write the individual supplements, the extra, um, submission time. Um, and obviously, you know, in many cases there’s a cost, a financial cost to submitting an application.
And so, um, that should always be considered as well. So in terms of final advice on, in navigating, you know, uh, your search, uh, in, in, in these, uh, crazy COVID 19 times, I think. Things have changed. Um, and so as I would issue earlier, I think being prepared, um, researching, starting early enough, uh, not too early, but early enough, um, planning ahead and being patient is going to be really important on, and remember that, you know, the folks [00:42:00] that are giving you your information session, the students that are giving you your tours, um, you know, Manning the front desk, the phones they’re doing the best that they can with the resources that they have on.
And so, you know, really being excited about the process, but being patient during that process, um, I think is really important, um, for everyone, um, know that many institutions will do different things. Um, for instance, you know, Boston university may have a different policy than, you know, a school down the street, um, uh, and or across the river.
Um, and, and you just need to know that there’s going to be different policies, different changes, different opportunities, and, you know, saying, you know, I was able to do this at XYZ school. Um, you know, may or may not get you anywhere, generally speaking, I would say it doesn’t. Um, and so I think coming with that patience and, [00:43:00] um, just kind of knowing that they’re really schools are gonna want to put on the best visit and experience for their, their families that are visiting you are their clients, so to speak in this relationship.
Um, and so they want to be hospitable to you. Um, and so they’re going to do everything that they can, again, And then things may continue to change. I think the only thing that has been constant and in my opinion, um, about the last two years is that there will constantly be change. Um, and that you can’t really plan much more than, you know, what a month in advance, um, and trying to do so is, is, is kind of, um, you know, fruitless in many cases.
Um, and so, you know, I just said, try to plan, um, you know, book out visits, but just again, be patient know that that things may change and, and, and plans may change and, and your plans, um, may be affected. The good news is that again, [00:44:00] colleges are aware of this. Everyone is going through this, um, you know, and, and experiencing it.
Um, and so we’re going to try to figure it out together. You know, I read something, um, recently that, you know, we shouldn’t be saying that we’re going through this together because we all. Well, we are going through it together. Um, we’re not experiencing it the same, we’re all experiencing it in our own ways.
Um, and I think that that’s really important. So I’m going to stop myself as far as going and say, we’re all going through this together. Um, but to say that, you know, if we work together, um, we can make it better for everyone. Um, and that’s really the goal of, of colleges. Um, and, and schools is to help you in your search and help you into your process.
So together we’ll make it through, um, and we’ll help you in your journey and, and, and help you learn, um, and research your, your colleges and universities. Um, and that’s what we’re here at college advisory to do as well. So, you know, it’s really exciting to be able to, to present and talk with you [00:45:00] tonight.
Um, and I know we have some time for question and answer. Um, so I’m happy to, to see, you know, what questions, what answers I can give to all on. So I think Lonnie can join me again to help facilitate that process. Yes. Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Brian. That was so informative. Um, that actually concludes the presentation part of our webinar for this evening.
We are now going to move into our live Q and a. So how it’s going to work. I’m going to read through the questions that you submitted. So please begin to submit your questions. Now I will paste them into the public chat so that you can see them read them out loud before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just double-check that you’ve joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing.
Okay. So our first question that we have, and Brian, you [00:46:00] talked about this, um, through your presentation, but maybe you want to reiterate how much weight should students put on the public ratings rankings, such as us news and war, a word report, et cetera. Yeah. So again, I think that in looking at the school, there should be little weight, um, put on that.
Um, and so, and what I mean by that is this, um, you should not make a decision on whether you want to apply or not based on. The ranking. In other words, it just because the school is not ranked in the top 50 does not mean that it might be a good fit for you. Um, and, and that means a lot of different things.
It might have a great academic offering for you. It might be a good financial option for you on it may be in a great location for you, all of those things, just because it’s not ranked super highly doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be a [00:47:00] good fit for you. And, and, and to apply. Now, that’s not to say that the top ranked institutions are, are bad, either.
They are great institutions. There’s a reason why they’re ranked. Um, what I’m saying is that, um, I think that. Um, in some cases can discourage candidates, um, from, uh, from seeing some of the other really great institutions that are out there and may for whatever reason, not be as highly ranked. So that’s what I would say.
I think it’s fine to look at the list is interesting. Um, when it comes out, anyone that works in college admissions immediately goes to the U S news, uh, website and sees scroll through and see where if their ranking changed, um, guarantee you Princeton, Harvard, Yale are constantly looking to see who’s number one this year.
Um, and or did they retain their number one, standing, whatever it may be. Um, and that’s fine. Um, that’s, [00:48:00] there’s a place for that somewhere. Um, I tend not to get super worked up about. Great. Great. Okay. Our next question, how can you make self guided visits, more effective? Most colleges do not have weekend tours available to visit.
Yeah, this is a great question. Um, and there’s a couple of different things that you can do. Um, one is, um, to, uh, because you can still get value out of just like I said, driving through or walking around the campus. Um, and so most in many cases, schools will offer, um, a campus map somewhere. Um, whether it be online or, you know, they have a campus safety office or, you know, the admission office itself, hands out a paper map, there’s somewhere, you can kind of get this tangible, [00:49:00] uh, item or just look at it on your phone or what have you.
And that will allow you to kind of see where things are. Um, you know, okay, I want to go check out the library. I want to see, you know, the fitness center. I want to see where these dorms are, et cetera, et cetera. Um, and so that’s really helpful as opposed to just kind of showing up and aimlessly wandering about, um, so kind of that’s that first step of research, another good idea would be to actually email or call the emission office and say, and ask first and foremost, do you offer, um, Saturday visits?
Um, if so, when on, and can I, how do I sign up for that? Um, and if not, um, say, you know, I am going to be visiting, I’m going to be in town, I’m going to be walking through campus. Do you have any suggestion of what I should do or look at or, or see? Um, and so I think that that is another way to kind of make, um, those opportunities available.[00:50:00]
You’d be surprised what emission officers are willing to do, um, and provide, I can only speak for myself, but there are a number of times that I stayed well after, you know, uh, kind of the 5:00 PM timeframe to, you know, talk to families to walk them around campus, um, to kind of show them different spots.
Um, you know, and, and while I personally can’t say that I ever came in on a Saturday or Sunday, I know of colleagues that have, um, and so, you know, again, we are there to kind of help you in your journey. So, you know, just kind of doing again that initial research. Um, and I’m sure there’s a lot of college admission officers out there.
Like, Brian, why are you saying this? Um, but you know, just kind of asking and seeing what, what the, the, the basics are. Um, but it’s a great question. I think there are, there’s still a lot of value in just kind of walking around and see [00:51:00] what seems. Getting the vibe, if you will. Okay. And then would visiting the college make a difference on the, off, like the offering for admissions?
Yeah. Good. Another good question. So, um, it can, um, there are some schools that, that track on that demonstrated interest. Um, and so, you know, they may now is, is it have a high value or high weight I would venture to say no. Um, but I think that, you know, um, If push comes to shove, you know, and you’re kind of evaluating everything holistically.
Can it be one of those things as like, yeah, this student came out of their way to visit our campus. They obviously know about us. They’re interested in us. They showed that interest. Um, they learned about our school, you know, they’re trying to decide also, you know, is, is this candidate more likely than others to enroll if we offer them [00:52:00] a spot in our class, um, you know, that that can be a factor that, that crosses on the admission committee, uh, committees, minds.
Um, and so I would say it can play a slight factor, um, but definitely not. Okay. So we’re going to take a short pause, um, for our Q and A’s, um, for me to share with you all a little bit about college advisor. So for those who are in the room, who aren’t are, aren’t already working with us, we know that the college admission process can be overwhelming for appearances students alike.
Our team of over 300 former admission officers in emission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate all in 1 0 1 advising sessions and last year’s admission cycle. Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times, the national rate and acceptance to Stanford at 4.4 times the national rate sign up for a free consultation with us by registering for our free web [00:53:00] platform.
App that college advisor.com and again, that’s app.college advisor.com their students and our families can explore students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines, research schools, such as Brian talked about college hub and more all right on our website. So with that, we will go back into our Q and a, we have time for a couple of more questions.
Um, how much would not submitting sat or act affect college admissions committee? Yeah, so I think that it comes down to, and I alluded to this a little bit earlier in the presentation is if a school is test optional, um, or test blind, Um, not, it will not affect your [00:54:00] decision at all, because what that school is saying is that we will not consider your tests.
I’m in the process if you don’t submit them to us. Um, and, and that’s a growing new trend, um, in many, many schools, um, partially because of COVID partially because of, you know, other factors, um, you know, in, in understanding of kind of the landscape of the college admission process and questioning kind of the equity behind standardized testing, things of that nature.
Um, but when it comes down to, is, does the school require tests? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, then you have to submit, um, if the answer is their test optional or their test block, Then they will not. What they’re telling you upfront is they will not hold it against you. If you do not submit your tests, that’s what tests optional means.
They will not hold it against you. [00:55:00] They will evaluate your emission decision, using everything else that you submit your transcript, your extracurriculars, et cetera. Um, they will not, they can’t hold information against you that they do not have. Okay. And I will see, we’ve got a few more questions that came up.
Um, how many colleges should a student have on their list? I heard you say 10. What is the breakdown of stress versus others? Yeah, so I saw that question as well. Uh, Lonnie, I’m not a hundred percent sure what the end of that question is relating to, uh, in terms of others, stress versus others. But yeah.
Applying to more schools can be stressful if there are additional requirements on, you know, if you’re applying again, hypothetically speaking to a bunch of schools that are all in the common application, you may only have to write one main essay, [00:56:00] um, and then just fire off your application and you’re good to go, but there are many schools that then have what are called supplemental questions or additional information that they’re asking of their students.
And so those little questions, those little 250 or 300, 400 word essays, um, can, um, can, uh, you know, can cause additional challenges, um, and time and commitment. Um, and so I think that that, that, that, that can be a time-consuming. Again, as I mentioned, there’s no right answer. If you feel really strong about four schools and they’re all, you know, target or safety schools, and those are the schools that you want to apply to and, and that’s it.
That’s awesome. That’s great. I’m happy for you. Um, if you want to broaden your horizons across the board, um, you know, then, then you might want to [00:57:00] apply to some more, um, you know, for instance, let’s say just hypothetically speaking, you’re applying to every single Ivy. Um, I would say, you know, those are all, you know, reach schools for you, uh, for most people.
Um, and so I would then make sure that you sprinkle in, um, you know, some, some more targets and then some, a bunch of safeties as well. Um, and so then you’re, you’re, you’re looking at at least a dozen, maybe 15 different schools that you’re applying to at that point. Um, so it kind of varies again for every applicant.
Um, You know, again, I mentioned, I shared that I applied to three schools. What my logic was there is that I felt that those were good target slash safety schools for me. And I was happy that if I got, if I only got into one of them, I would go to that school. I liked all of them equally. At that time, I was happy with them.
I was excited about it. I happened to get into all three and then I had a choice. Um, but you know, that’s how I [00:58:00] planned my college strategy. Everyone goes about it a little bit differently. So I don’t think there is a true right or wrong. Okay. And then, um, this will be our final question. How do I let colleges know that I visited them?
Do I write it in an essay? Yeah. So most schools, um, we’ll track that information. You’ll check in. Um, you’ll fill out an inquiry card. You’ll register online. Um, most schools are, you know, many schools are digital now. Um, and so, you know, for me, when I read and read an application at BU when I opened it up on my computer screen, I could see an indicator.
You know, this student on, you know, visit campus. The student visited us at a college fair. The student visited us on at a high school visit. Um, et cetera, et cetera. So we know that information ahead now, did I get really excited when then in their supplemental essay, they said, you know, Brian came to my high school and he did an awesome [00:59:00] job talking about BU and did you know?
Yeah, of course that was great. Um, you know, so that’s always encouraged as well. Um, but typically most schools are tracking, uh, the students that are visiting their campus. Okay. So that is gonna conclude our Q and a. So thank you, Brian, for all of the information that you shared tonight to our participants is the end of our webinar.
We had a really great time telling you all about. You know how to just, you know, take care of how to research and tour colleges during the unprecedent times that we are in with COVID-19. Um, also just a reminder that we do have more webinars that we will be offering for the month of March. So please check out our website again, that’s at app app.college advisor.com and we hope to see you again in the [01:00:00] future webinar.
Have a great evening, everyone. Thank you, Brian. Again. Thanks everyone. Goodnight. Goodnight.