Making the Most of Your College Visits
Ready to go on college visits but don’t know what to expect? Get the inside scoop on making the most of your college visits with CollegeAdvisor.com.
Admissions expert Maria Acosta Robayo will share her tips and advice on all things college visits during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:
How do I schedule my college visits?
When is the best time to visit campuses?
What should I be looking for/questions should I be asking?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2023-01-02 Making the Most of Your College Visits
[00:00:00] Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on making the most of your college visits. I’m McKenzie and I’ll be your host tonight. So if you have any tech issues, you can direct message me. But otherwise, uh, to orient everyone with webinar attending, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions that like q and a on the sidebar.
You can download their slides and you can start to many your questions in the q and a tab. Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi everyone, my name is Maria Acosta Robayo and I graduated from Harvard class of 2020 where I studied sociology and global health policy and where I was also on the pre-med track. Yes, and there isn’t a poll next, so you can just keep going.
Sounds great. So today we’re gonna be talking a little bit more about how you can make the best out of your college visits. So we, we’ll just start off with chatting about when is a good time to actually start researching schools. So you can technically start as early as middle school, but I wouldn’t really ramp up until you get to high school.
and [00:01:00] this is because you might have different opinions on the things that you might wanna study. You might have been exposed to more classes that can help you guide, guide your understanding of what schools you wanna apply to. Um, especially as you’re in high school, you might also get like more college counseling from, um, your high school advisors.
And so it’s really the best time is, is in high school. Um, I would say that starting early, even though again, like maybe freshman year of high school, um, really allows you to be able to apply to more summer and winter break programs that colleges might be hosting. So if you look online, a lot of the schools that are, again, for undergraduate students, for college students do host, um, high school programs for high school for high schoolers who are on break.
And so getting a sense of what school you might go to or might wanna apply to. gives you a better sense for what summer programs you could also apply to in advance. Um, it also allows you to have a better sense of how you can tour your colleges. And so, [00:02:00] for example, if you were a freshman in high school and you already knew you wanted to tour, like schools that are in like the Boston area, it allows you to be able to maybe plan like other trips with friends or family that can allow you to more informally toward those schools.
Um, so again, this is all, none of this is like, required, is just good thinking ahead, that if you start earlier, it gives you that time and space to do that. Um, so now for the times that I think like should actually be the times where you, um, sit down and start thinking more about, uh, researching schools.
Uh, so nine and 10th grade, this is when you should probably start thinking about what type of school you wanna attend. So that can be like whether you want to learn a more specific like skill. Um, Say if you like, really are focused on like being like a pt, like a physical therapist, and there’s specific schools that are best for that.
You should probably start thinking more about like, okay, is do I want a more technical school where I can like, maybe it has a PT track, maybe it has a PT school associated with it that you could go to after college. [00:03:00] This is true of other schools that where you have a very clear idea of what skill you wanna.
um, or do you maybe wanna go to a liberal arts college? Um, so that one is more where you can get a more well-rounded education before you really dive into learning a technical skill. Um, obviously even at liberal arts arts schools, you can still learn a lot of technical skills, but it does have a core curriculum where you’ll be learning about lots of other things in addition to your technical skill.
Um, then I would say, uh, think a little bit more about what, what are the majors and the extracurriculars that interest you, because again, being able to narrow down what schools have the best programs for a specific major or maybe have really great extracurricular opportunities. Um, I’ll give an example.
Like with Harvard, they have a really great like mountaineering club and they do a lot of trips where they go and climb mountains. And that’s something I would have never thought about until I got to college and I was like, oh, that’s a really interesting club. But for other people who had like really researched like, how do they wanna spend their time in college?
And part of it was the academics. The other part was like [00:04:00] continuing like a passion of theirs, which was climbing. , it was a really important, um, factor that their school that they were applying to had that program or had that club. Um, and lastly, I would say in, in that ninth and 10th grade period, also start thinking about what location you wanna spend, uh, or wanna live in in the next four years.
Um, so it’s a lot of students are just thinking about like, what school, but you also wanna think about like what cities are nearby, what amenities, um, especially if you’re a pre-med, you probably wanna think about like what are the medical hubs nearby where you could do research or shadow doctors? And so thinking about the actual city location is really important.
Um, and lastly, in 11th grade, um, this is when you should really sit down and like put um, pen to paper and think a little bit more about, okay, how do I get organized about what schools I’m interested in? How do I compare them? I suggested the best way to do this is to actually make a spreadsheet with your college advisor.
That could be your school college advisor or your advisor here at College Advisor um, [00:05:00] dot com. And. You can really get a sense for, okay, what schools are you interested in? And start doing some research on them and start narrowing down, okay, what are my top choices? Why are these my top choices? Um, and those are opportunities to that where you can kind of narrow that down more with, with somebody else who’s gone through the process before.
Um, so where should you start your college process? Uh, picking up, right where in the end of the last slide you start by making a spreadsheet to log all your research. Um, and then you can use categories in the pre, oh, I think there might have been. Oh. Um, so you can use like different categories like your location where, um, what extracurriculars you’re interested in, what’s admissions rate, um, things like that, that can give you a better sense for like, how do I compare between two?
Um, so you could also start with your favorite school, um, one that you might already have in mind, and then use a search engine like Google, um, and the school’s website to fill out categories for each of your schools, um, [00:06:00] schools that you’re interested in. And I would say you might like, wanna keep out for, keep an eye out for additional categories that you might wanna add in.
So, exactly. If you’re, um, a pre-med student, you might be thinking more about like, okay, which ones have good research opportunities. If you’re someone who like really cares about, um, college sports, college athletics, you might also think about like, okay, which ones have really good, like sports events, good NCAA teams.
Um, . So these are all like categories that you can add that are very specific to what college experience you wanna have. Um, and then you can find additional schools by looking at rankings for schools from, um, with your intended major. So for example, like the best schools in economics are the best schools in chemistry.
Um, and then looking at schools in the areas that you wanna live in. So let’s say you don’t know what school you want to go to, but you know, you really wanna live in the Northeast and you wanna live in like a college, um, like a city that has a lot of college students then you might wanna look for, for, uh, colleges that are in Boston or maybe New York.
Um, so [00:07:00] those are kind of like different categories or ways of thinking where you can narrow down, okay, how can I look up schools, um, in a way that isn’t just like listing out, you know, something that’s on like a website, what you, you get to select a little bit more of like the location you wanna live in and index on other categories, and then work backwards and think about what schools are good and are available in those areas.
Um, . And then I would say fill in the gaps by reaching out to, um, admissions officers or students, um, or recent alumni from those schools. And maybe ask just a little bit more about like, okay, um, this is what the school website says, this is what I have heard, but like, what is your experience? What are things that you would think about, you know, comparing this school in your school?
Like what are some of the ways that your stands out? Things like that, that can help you fill in the gaps that are harder to fill in with just a Google search or a website search. Um, so these are the factors I was alluding to in the previous, uh, slides. So, um, [00:08:00] if you’re making a spreadsheet, you could actually use these, um, like these bullet points as categories that you can fill out on your spreadsheet.
So like the tops of your columns, um, like what’s the location, it both ge like in geography and also in relation to other facilities or opportunities. Again, the key example of that is like medical hubs or places where you can do research if you’re pre-med. , um, the type of college, the majors in the programs of study that are offered and that you’re interested in, what are the admissions rates like?
That helps you to be able to figure out which ones maybe are some of my reach schools, my target schools, or my safety schools. Um, the financial aid, I think that’s a really great component to be thinking about early on because I probably wanna apply to a couple schools where at least like you’ll be able to apply for either some like merit-based scholarship or financial aid, um, or need-based, uh, scholarships, um, or need-based financial aid.
Sorry. Um, and then also thinking about what are some of the study abroad opportunities, some of the professors that you might wanna study with or might wanna [00:09:00] take classes from. And then lastly, um, thinking about what is the culture that you wanna have when you’re in college? So what are, maybe you’re really interested in being part of a fraternity or a sorority, or maybe there’s like other types of clubs and extracurriculars that you’re really interested in.
Those are all things that, again, I would keep in mind. And then as you’re making your spreadsheet, those are categories you can put in your spreadsheet. . Um, so we’re all, even though um, things are seem to be starting to go back to normal, um, we’re also still affected by, uh, COVID 19, and that includes some of the school visits and researching colleges.
And so I would say in 2020 and 2022, we saw a lot of schools actually limited their school visits. Some of them replaced them with vivir virtual tours. Some of them canceled them altogether. I would say last year, um, mandates were either retired or lessons. So schools are offering more in-person tours. Um, and that really varies from school to school.
I would probably expect the same thing to happen this year where schools are, um, [00:10:00] continuing to open up. I think most of them that we’re gonna open up did so last. But I would say regardless of that, a legacy from that 20 20, 21 period is, um, that virtual tours were now made more available and that just allows more students who might either not be able to attend a physical tour either for, because of financial limitations or time limitations, they still are able to go and get a, get a chance to see the campus.
Um, so you might be one of those students who just, you know, you have the flexibility to visit schools that you like the most, um, and really go and see those in person. And then, um, with schools that maybe you were kind of interested in, but maybe it wasn’t worth it to like, make a whole trip out of it.
Then you can do, um, the virtual tours there.
Yes. And real quick, we’re gonna do a post. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started. I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together. Or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. [00:11:00] And while we wait for those responses to Roland Maria, can you tell us, um, if you did to our colleges, how was your experience?
Yeah, it was really good. I did not tour before applying. I actually toured after, um, I actually, I guess this is not actually like a, a campus tour, but more so, uh, like a pre fresh weekend. So once you get admitted, you’re oftentimes invited to come and see the school itself. And like they expect, like, you know, if you’re making a decision between multiple schools, that that’s a good opportunity to get a chance to see the, the culture at the school to, um, they put on lots of like really great events.
And so I did a visiting weekend at Harvard and that’s really what made me decide to go. . Um, I met really cool people and like had really great conversations. Professors were really open to just chatting with, uh, pre Ross and um, I love the campus. It was definitely a felt like home. Great. And it’s looking like we have 29% have them started.
59% are researching [00:12:00] schools, 8% are working on their essays. 4% are getting their application materials together and 1% the lucky. You are almost done. I’m assuming that’s a senior that’s finishing up right now and you can control the slides. Sounds good. And that’s good. Congrats to those who are almost done.
And um, I’m glad that you’re getting a headstart, um, with learning more about college visits, um, before your senior year. For those of you who are junior sophomores or. . Um, so continuing here with this slide. So, um, should you visit schools before or after you get into them? And how important is a college visit?
So, ideally, students should visit before applying just because it gives you a better sense of like, which schools you really wanna, like, devote time to write essays and whatnot. But in reality, that can be really hard, especially if you’re thinking about lots of different schools. It might also be, um, something that, like just the time of year is really hard as you’re like a junior and maybe you’re prepping for, um, SATs, standardized tests.
Um, and so [00:13:00] I would say, like I say, ideally because it could help students see what, like if they really wanna apply to the school, it could provide additional details and information that students can use in their essays. Um, and it’s just nice to visit when deciding be between schools because you have a more focused purpose for the visit.
Um, however, ultimately it’s not really a requirement and can often be like financial difficulty to, to visit all those schools, but I would say, after you get into a school. I think that’s really when it makes the most sense because it actually gets you, it gives you a chance to decide, okay, now that I’m at these schools, which one do I feel I could be home for four years?
And so I personally recommend that. Like if you’re doing like a big tour college tour before, that’s fantastic. Again, like take advantage of being able to collect information you can use in your essays. Like take good notes if you aren’t able to do that. I would suggest something a little bit more like what I did with the pre frosh weekend, whereas I was deciding between two [00:14:00] schools and going to pre frosh weekend, quote unquote like a, a school visit.
Um, is, it was just a really great opportunity for me to sit down and think, okay, what are the, I’m gonna be a lot more narrowed here in my research. Like what are the things that I really care about? I really cared about, like the culture I really cared about. Like what did it look like, feel like to live in that city?
And so when I was visiting, that’s really what, like caught my attention and I had a more purposeful, like vision for why I was visiting. That came from having already been having already, um, applied and accepted and having to decide between multiple.
Um, so what do you usually learn during a college visit or a school visit? Um, so you learn some of the basics. So you will learn a little bit of like school history, like the mission, some of the alumni achievements, um, but then something that’s very specific, specifically helpful for students is that you get a better chance to see campus life in action.
So you see the students walking by, you see what it’s [00:15:00] like to be on campus. Um, you also get a chance to answer more specific academic and extracurricular questions. When you approach either professors or other like admission staff, you get a chance to actually hear more in person about like what is special about the school.
you also get a chance to see campus layout in the proximity to different buildings. So something as like, simple as like, do I want to wake up super early to go from, you know, my dorm to like the sign center? Or is it actually really close by and it’s just like a 10 minute walk? I know students in different schools have, um, re the school residences can be either very close to the school buildings or they can be actually quite far.
And you either might need a car or you might need a bike or plan quite a bit ahead. And so that’s just something that you’ll get a better sense of if you’re in a school in person versus if you’re just looking at pictures online. And then lastly, it’s a good opportunity to potentially meet with professors, coaches, or other school personnel that could be helpful in making, helping you make a decision about whether you are interested [00:16:00] in that school.
Um, so how could you find out if a school has, uh, virtual visits? So, um, you can use your favorite search engine and just use like X school virtual visit. Um, and usually if the school does have a tour, it’ll pop up among the top fines. And I would just be sure to look up school’s website, uh, to, to like make sure that it’s a school’s website so that it’s dot edu and the url, just because you don’t wanna be necessarily looking at other, um, like unofficial virtual visits, if you like, are very interested in just doing it with the school itself.
Um, and if you can’t find it there, you could also email the admissions office to ask if they actually have virtual tours available. Um, and you can do that by finding the email of the school’s website on either your common app or, um, on Google.
Um, so how can you use visits to help finalize your, your, uh, college list? So I would say, again, have a more narrow focus as you think about. why you [00:17:00] wanna visit the school? Like ask yourself a couple questions like, do you prefer the campus culture here? Do you like the proximity of the city and to other amenities?
Do you like the residential system? Do you like the classes that are offered? Things that, and and those three questions that I mentioned before are really ones that like, is harder to tell on a website. So that’s why I’m saying that like those visits, whether virtual or in person, probably more so an in person help you get more of that like, vibe of like, is this really where I wanna live?
Is this kind of the, the layout and the campus that I wanna live at? Um, a lot of the other things can be seen more through the website, uh, but I think that like, it does take on a bigger life once you’re. . Um, and then you’re also able to talk to students and to staff. So hopefully if you’re on a visit, like you’ll be able to see students around and like being judicious about, like, not like interrupting someone if they’re studying or something, but like being able to maybe ask like, Hey, like, I’m really like thinking about applying here.
Do you have like a moment to just like ask like, [00:18:00] you know, how are you liking it? Like, were you thinking about other schools and kind of optimizing that during your school trips, uh, your school visits, or even asking staff, whether that’s professors or again, other. , um, admissions officer is personnel at the school to see a little bit more about like, okay, you know, is this the major that I wanna go into?
Like how does your major differ from a different, like, major? Um, and usually like you could, like e uh, on the website there’s like de the departments for each of the majors and you can go and see, okay, what are the staff that work there? What are their office hours? You can email them in advance and say like, Hey, I’m doing a school visit.
I would love to hear more about your major. I’m very interested in it. Can I come and like, ask you some questions? So again, those not all staff are open to that. A lot of them are very busy. Uh, but it’s a good opportunity to again, optimize your school visit. Um, so should you connect with your admissions officers on, on your visit?
So, as I mentioned before, the short answer is yes, um, if that’s possible and if you [00:19:00] have questions. So, um, admissions officers are usually really, really busy and so it’s hard to schedule time with them. So, If you are able to get some time with them, I wouldn’t come and like, just expect them to talk at you.
Like they could have like done that through you. What they could tell you is written, written already on like the school website or through like a virtual tour. Really, if you’re gonna meet with an admissions officer, it should be because you have questions in mind that you wanna ask them. And so I would make sure that you’re coming prepared with genuine questions that will showcase your curiosity and interest in the school.
Um, so my final advice here on how to maximize your college visits is to just do some in-depth research about the schools that you’re interested before deciding on college visits. Make sure that if you’re thinking about specific school or visiting a specific school that you’ve gone through and done, like the harder work of like, okay, what are, what are things that I already know through the website and what are things that I really wanna find out during my visit?
Um, and so that’s, that’s really [00:20:00] gonna give you the opportunity to invest and optimize as much as possible on that visit.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again that you can download the site from the link in the handouts tab. And this webinar is being recorded if you would like to view it again later on our [email protected] pfizer.com/webinars.
Moving onto the live q and a, I’ll read through your questions you submitted in the q and a tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your q and a tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom links sent to your email and not from the website or else you won’t get all the features of big markers.
So, yeah. Um, and also I’ve been adding some tidbits of information in the public chat. I don’t think it gets saved with the webinar, so if you want that information, just copy and paste it to a. another, uh, document, uh, if you would like to save it for labor later, there’s some information on blind programs, college [00:21:00] fairs at your high school or in the area, um, some different summer programs.
And also to answer some of the questions, you do not need to use a Google spreadsheet or Excel spreadsheet when making your college list. That’s just usually what most people, um, use just because it has the different blocks. You can use any sort of format that you would like to use. Uh, it’s just good to keep a record of what all information about a school is interesting to you.
And then also college tours are free. Usually you just have to go to the college’s website and go to their visit page where you can fill out, um, sign up for a tour, figure out the dates that they’re available, the times, uh, pick all of that information. And sometimes they may even ask for like an itinerary of where you wanna do things, and then you’ll be able to print your ticket and show it when you get to the school.
Okay, now moving on to the q and a. Uh, so for our first question, Student is asking. Um, well, I guess just to start, um, does visiting a college increase your chance of [00:22:00] admissions and does it show demonstrated interest? Uh, so I would say definitely shows demonstrated interest, especially if there is like a tracking system.
Like I know, um, for like Florida State University, uh, they like will track like, hey, like have you gone on a, on a visit? Have you met with an admissions officer? And I wouldn’t say it’s like the end all, be all. It also doesn’t mean that like you won’t get in if you don’t, um, go on a school visit. It definitely helps to just get your name on the radar.
But I never visited Harvard before actually getting accepted and like that was fine. And like I would say again, it’s. , it’s not something that, if it’s gonna be a financial or like a time burden, um, that it’s something that you need to do. Like, for example, the reason I didn’t go on a school visit was because my school was doing school visits, like I think a month before AP exams, and I just wanted to be on like my, a game for AP exams.
So I just didn’t go. Um, or no, actually, sorry, it wasn’t a month, it was a month before. Um, it was in [00:23:00] November and so it was a month before. Submissions and before like my, like mid-year, um, like ap like mock tests that my school did. And so I didn’t wanna like do badly on that. Um, and I felt like taking off like four days to go see like schools for me at least, like was a lot of like time that I wouldn’t be studying.
And so again, like I didn’t go see my trade off was I decided to spend more time studying than I, than going on school visits. And that was okay. And for some students it was like, wow, I really wouldn’t have known I really loved this school unless I had gone on this trip. And so for them it was a lot more worth it to go.
Mm-hmm. , uh, going on to next question, are tours held year round, is it best to visit during the school year when classes are in session or during breaks? Uh, how can you find out when tours are being offered? Yes. I would say that’s a very school specific question where like if you go on their website, you can see which ones are being offered, what times, how often.
Um, I think. again, some of them might not be [00:24:00] offered at all during the summer because they have school summer programs. Others might not be offered during busy times of the, of the school semester. Um, I would say that it also depends on like what you want to see on your school visit. If you wanna see like the hustle and bustle of like a day in like school, then you might wanna go during the semester so that you got a chance to see like what student, what it looks like to like, walk with like all the students who are currently attending.
Um, it might be harder to potentially like get access to a professor cuz their semester would’ve started and so it could be harder to actually reach out to them then. Um, teach like professors could be more free during the breaks. Um, so it really depends, I would say, think about what you want to do during that, um, that visit.
And again, if it’s more of like the culture and the vibe, I would say definitely go during the semester if it’s more like talking with specific professors, which again, it’s not an assurance that professors will talk to pre frosh. Um, And by pre fresh, I mean like high schoolers, like pre-freshman. Um, I would then, if, [00:25:00] if there is availability, I would ask like that professor, like, you know, when is the best time and try to go during a season where it’s not as busy for, for the professor.
Mm-hmm. , going on to the next question. Are you allowed to attend classes during the tours or, um, look in or stay in the dorms during a visit or even go to the dining hall? Yeah, so I would say usually that only happens during pre-wash weekend. So when the school actually opens up the school, like staying at a dorm or like eating at the dining hall is usually only offered during like those, per like those actual like opening like days for pre-wash, um, where you can go in and it’s actually like an experience built by the school.
I would say it is possible to like you. sitting in the back of a class of like a big lecture hall. Like I know that that happened. I think one, uh, several of my friends like, did that. They lived in Boston. They just like would go and like sit in the back of the lecture hall. That’s not really, it’s not like, it wasn’t, um, like a building where you had to sign in or anything.
However, [00:26:00] um, the one thing that is like, something to keep in mind is like, not all classes are those, like lecture style big classes where you like will go unnoticed. Like some of them are like smaller and like, you know, professors don’t want like tourist quote unquote like tourists coming in. Um, and so I would say definitely like think first about like, do some research on the school and see what classes, like maybe are big lecture classes.
Um, and then make sure that the building is actually open to, um, to guests. And if it’s not, then I would make sure that you don’t potentially like, you know, get in trouble and have your, and have your name, like be on paper for something that’s not necessarily positive. Yes. And going off of that, um, when I was in 10th grade, I toured Howard University, which is in Washington DC um, during the summer.
And there weren’t many people on campus and none of the buildings, I think only like one building was open. So I didn’t really get an official tour. I just sort of walked around campus, which was [00:27:00] good just to be able to see what the, like the area and the campus felt like. But I didn’t really get to see students or professors or any sort of the action, I guess.
And then, um, but when I, my senior year during a, um, a break from my high school, so like fall break, which is in mid-October, I went in toured, uh, Cornell University, which is in Ithaca, New York, um, which is upstate. And I was able to, um, , when you’re um, making a tour, like an official tour, you usually have to go on the website, like I said, and make an itinerary and sign up for the tour.
So on this tour we um, had a, a student who was showing us around campus. We talked with an admissions officer in a room about different programs and what campus was like. And then I was able to speak with him afterwards. Uh, and then what else? And I was able to, a part of my itinerary, um, sign up to sit in a classroom.
So that is an option on some schools where they’ll allow you to go to a classroom. It was a big lecture hall and we just sat in the back, [00:28:00] um, for an hour. I can’t believe I sat through that whole class. Um, and then, uh, and you can pick which one you kind of want cuz they may have different options. And then, um, but it was, I got to speak with students.
I walked around, got to speak with different admissions officers. I’d recommend going on a time in your, during your school year, um, During the school year, uh, usually college’s, um, breaks are a little bit different, so it may be That doesn’t make sense. Sorry. , um, coll. Yeah. College’s breaks are different from yours, so whenever you are having a break, the, your college that you’re interested in may not be on break yet, so you would be on break and be able to tour without missing school.
Um, but you’d still be able to see the school in action. I just feel it’s a bit better cuz you get a better feel of what the school is actually like and you can talk to students and figure out, um, like different information about the school. Um, so yeah. Sorry that was a long tidbit, but, um, going on to the next question.[00:29:00]
Um, where is a good question? If you see any questions in the chat that you wanted to get to, you can just read them. Um, but, uh, are to college tours costly and how can students and families save money on going on college visit? . Yeah, so I would say, um, there usually are, it’s costly, not necessarily because like you have to pay for one of the tours.
It’s more so just like tribe uh, the travel finances. So like being able to like book tickets or, you know, like your stay for multiple days if you’re planning to visit several schools. I would say the best way to save money on this is one, like, again, overlap like family vacations with like some school visits.
So if you’re going to a trip to like a city like New York, maybe visit Columbia and like NYU and like Sunny and like some of the other schools that are around there. Uh, if you’re thinking about going Boston, then like, again, Tufts, Northeastern, like Harvard, m i t, you could do all like mix and match so that you are like not paying for a [00:30:00] vacation and also for a school trip visit.
I would also say, try to think about it regionally. So maybe you do like a northeast trip where like you in, you try to look at a lot of schools that are in like, you know, maybe New York, Massachusetts. Um, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, like, I don’t know, like that northeast section. Um, and then maybe another time you go and like see some, like regionally in the west coast, uh, some, maybe in like a different state.
Um, and so I would say if you’re able to figure out like ways to see multiple schools in one day in a re, like again going on a regional trip, that could be a lot more helpful than trying to like, maybe go see like Stanford all the way in California, Harvard all the way in Massachusetts, Dartmouth, all the way I think up north, uh, New Hampshire or I, I’m not sure if it’s New Hampshire or Vermont.
Um, do you know where Dartmouth is by any chance? McKenzie? Uh, Vermont. I think. Vermont. Yeah. So it’s a lot harder to try to make that, um, that different connection than to [00:31:00] like go multi, to go to just one region. . Mm-hmm. . Also, uh, as I mentioned earlier, there are some other programs. So flying programs are where schools will fly you in.
This is before you get admitted. Um, usually there’s an application process that’s similar to the actual college application process and it’s done or. During the same time, but it’s due sooner. Um, with filling out essays, um, getting through the process and being accepted into the program. Those programs usually happen between August and October of your senior year.
So right before the early, um, early admission deadlines are so around oc late October, early November. Uh, and these are programs that are usually free or they, um, comp some of the cost of travel and you get to go there similar to a PREWASH program where you get to stay on campus, um, be in the dorms, uh, sit in classes, see different things.
Usually those are a part of diversity and inclusion programs for minority or low s [00:32:00] SES students. But they do have other options for like different majors or programs. Um, so just. I did add a link in the public chat and I was just told it doesn’t work. So just Google fly in programs and then it should pull up the CapEx link or you can just Google fly in programs at x, y, Z school to see if it pops up.
Not every school is gonna have that, and they do have limited options, so if that’s something you’re interested in, you do need to start planning ahead. Um, but yeah. And then. , they didn’t offer them during covid, so they may still just be getting back in the groove of those programs, but most schools have started doing them again.
Okay. And then also college fairs are a good option. They either come to your school or you can go to regional college fairs. So like, I’m from Georgia, so in Atlanta there was a college fair, somewhere random in Atlanta at this building. And it was Cornell University Rice and like three other universities and different admissions officers and reps from those schools came and, uh, told information about it.
It was similar to like doing the [00:33:00] info side of a college tour, you just weren’t at the actual college. So that can be another way just to get more information about the school. College tours are really just to get a better feel of what the area is like and also what the people on campus are like. That’s really the difference.
Uh, but going on to the next question, um, , uh, how many college should you look, uh, should you visit, um, physically, um, and is there such thing as too much? Yeah, I would say I would look at like your top, if you have like a top 10, top 10 schools, I would again, try to maybe do like group them into regions and try to see how many of those top 10 schools you’re able to visit.
Like, again, if they’re, if each one is like in completely different places, that could be really hard. Like, again, like San Harvard, Dartmouth, uh, then like, maybe like Rice in Texas, like that could be really hard to kind of go everywhere. Whereas like, maybe you do like three or four of your schools are in the northeast, so you do like [00:34:00] one northeast trip to those schools.
Maybe the rest of them are like in California and then like you get to do some of those. Um, so I would say doing a couple is helpful. As I mentioned in my previous, in one of my previous sites, it’s not necessary to even do any, if you. aren’t able to, again, pay for it or you’re not able for other circumstances to travel.
And that’s, that’s okay. Like again, I am an example of someone who did not do any college visits. Um, however, like I maybe too many is like any that, um, put too much of a financial or a time burden on you. Like, again, this is not going to a college visit doesn’t secure your spot anymore. Like, if anything, like getting like solid grades and like being able to meet some of the requirements or the requirements of the school in general, like could be more important and so, or is more important.
So I would say it might not, it might actually be too detriment to go to too many schools. Okay. Uh, to too many school visits. . Yes. And typically college tours and flying programs especially are during your school [00:35:00] year, during your senior year, um, or your junior if you’re going earlier. Um, but, um, especially flying programs are just senior year, but um, it can be a bit hard to balance with school.
So you will have to miss school. And I know for some people if you’ve already missed a certain amount of days, you can get sort of docked for missing over like 10 days of school, I believe. So really think about how you wanna space out your tours and, um, what’s important. Maybe do it over the summer or do it over breaks.
Um, you do not need to visit every school on your list. And then also another way, um, to figure out, um, like location or getting a general idea of what it’s like being on a college campus is to just visit the schools that are in your state near Bayou. So like going to a school that’s in a more urban area.
So like for me, from Georgia going to, uh, like. UGA is a college town or a suburb. Um, what’s another school? Georgia Tech is in Atlanta, so a rural, an urban school, [00:36:00] and then Fort Valley State University is in the boonies in a rural area. So visiting, um, like those three types of areas, just to see what those campuses are like, what it’s like being in a city versus a rural versus a, a college town.
Um, to see what it’s like being on those types of campuses can just give you an idea, um, though if you’re going to a place that’s very. Different. So like me going to New York from Georgia, um, climates are different. The amount of hills in an area are different. Um, general, um, geo geographical differences, figuring out how long travel is, those can be important bits of information that can change how you feel about a school.
Um, being able to just see what the climate is like, what the surrounding town is like, can help you feel if it’s gonna be safer or something fun to do or not as great of an area. Um, so those are things to consider. But if you’re unable to leave this state, um, it’s good to just visit local schools to get an idea of what it’s gonna be like on those types of schools.
[00:37:00] And then also visiting a liberal arts school versus a stem school or STEM research school, um, to see like though every school is different, just to get an idea. Um, going on to the next question, is it better to speak with students, professors, or faculty when touring? Who gives the best information and what should you ask different people when touring?
Yeah. So I think that’s really, um, like you said, very unique to like each person. So a professor will, won’t have as much expertise on like the admissions process, but they’ll have more expertise on like potentially a class that you’re interested in taking. Like I remember my pre-wash weekend, I, I went to go see the, a professor in like the sociology department and I mentioned like I’m really interested in like the intersection of like learning about different, how different cultures understand medicine and like some of like the historical grievances in different like communities towards like medicine and doctors and like research.
Um, and like was able to ask more about like what classes are taught here that like could touch on that. Um, do you have a lot of [00:38:00] pre-med students in the sociology department? Like those are questions that were better for those professors and those like department, like staff. Um, for admissions officers it was more so like questions about like, you know, financial aid and like, in the process of like, you know, again, I, I had already applied, had already been admitted, but I, I’m guessing before that would be like questions about like, admissions and like maybe different types of like, questions that are more school specific, like taking classes that are IB or ap or like different, um, like how the school views different types of classes.
Maybe if they take your AP credits, um, as like college credits, or do they take dual enrollments as college credits? Like those are questions that you can ask to an admissions officer. Um, with students, I’m sure it’s a lot more about like, how do you like living here? Like how do you enjoy, like your daily life, what are things you, you like and you don’t like?
Like those are the questions that, that would be more geared towards actual. . Mm-hmm. , uh, a student is [00:39:00] asking, do you get application fee waivers if you visit? I Googled it. And, um, most application fee waivers in general for, um, app college applications or for like S A T A C T are usually if you’re a low income student, and usually that’s found out by, if you’re on free and reduced lunch at your school and you can get that fee waiver from your school counselor.
Uh, in terms of getting the application fee waivers, some schools offer them if you use their official, um, application instead of the common app. Some schools use them if you have, most schools use them if you have demonstrated need financial need. And there are some schools that do, uh, if you visit the school.
But I didn’t find any specifics. It just said that some schools may do that, but you would have to research the individual schools to find out about their policies. Uh, but going on to the next, uh, question, uh, student is asking, um, , um, how useful are [00:40:00] virtual, um, tours or YouTube videos? Yeah, I think that they’re pretty useful in getting a sense of like curating like good videos of like what the campus looks like, maybe some helpful information.
They probably have like a q and a section where you can ask questions or where commonly asked questions can be asked. So I think that they’re pretty helpful and usually like very low stakes to like, do, like, you can just like plan on like, you know, 30 minutes, an hour to like, of your time on, you know, the, what would be like the episode of like a Netflix show or like half a movie.
Um, and just visit like, and do one of the college tours. And so I would think it’s very helpful. Like you probably could learn more than you think, um, than just, just from like looking through a website. . Mm-hmm. . Uh, going on to the next question a student is asking, um, for the professor, um, you mentioned speaking to professors.
Uh, so they’re asking, would you just be naming professors for your major or how [00:41:00] qualified they are? What is the importance of specific majors in a college? I’m assuming they’re asking like, why would you wanna find out about professors outta college? Yeah. So I think that could be helpful, like for several things.
One, just for yourself to get a better sense of like, you know, is this like a place where I wanna study X field? So for me, like again, I was pre-med, but I wanted to like do more sociology and like more cultural based classes, so, . My thought was like, is this a place where I can do that? Is Harvard a place where like, you know, it’s very either like very like chemistry and stem, like biology heavy for pre-meds, or is it somewhere where I can double dip?
And so that’s why it was helpful for me. It was also help, like if I had been writing my application, it could also just be helpful because like it allows me to have like more details to share in like an essay about like why I’m interested in this school. Like I could say like, you know, I talked with x y professor about X, Y, and Z and it that affirmed that like A, B and C.
Mm-hmm. . Uh, going on to the next question, kind of similar to the demonstrate [00:42:00] interests. A student was asking about, um, like, do you need to write about, um, uh, like your college tour in the essay? And I think somebody else was asking like, does it actually um, like help your application? Is it necessary? . Um, I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you have done it, like I just wouldn’t write it in an essay about something completely different.
Like, I wouldn’t like go and say, you know, talk about something like really deep and personal, maybe an identity that you have, like a challenge that you faced. And then also bring in that you’ve been to like a college tour. Like I would say maybe in like the y essay, like why the school? You could mention that you went on a college tour that like confirmed like the things you had already, like, researched online and like the things that you like had known about the school.
So I think that’s one way to bring it into your essays, but I think you shouldn’t do it if it’s like very, very random and like, not at all like, cohesive with the rest of your essay. Mm-hmm. , uh, kind of going off of that, I found the actual question the student was asking, what [00:43:00] kind of details resulting after the school visit can be used in essay?
Uh, since the tour is just walking around campus, Yeah, so I think that like, you know, depending on like the tour, some of it can be just walking around campus and that can be, again, used as good information about like, did you like the culture of the school? Like you as you were walking around, like, you know, is the residential buildings like really far apart and like it’s kind of like isolated and secluded, or are they all close together and it’s like a community of students who are all like, studying together.
Um, did you see, like, were you, um, maybe like the examples are like Cornell and Princeton, where they’re a little bit more separated from like a city, or was it something like NYU or like even like Harvard that’s kind of embedded in a city and like you’re really interested in being able to like live with other non-students who can like, you know, be mentors or like, just like, you know, be able to see families walking around.
Like those are all details that like, again, add to the culture of, [00:44:00] or like the community aspects of the school. Um, if you’re on a tour that does more than just walk around the campus and like actually like. , you know, allows you to meet with like a department like, or like you get to see the department where your major is.
Like that can give you more information from like a professor and whatnot. So it really just depends on the type of tour you’re on. Mm-hmm. , uh, for me, with the Cornell Tour, I remember sitting, um, and listening to the admissions officer. I don’t think he was an admissions officer actually, but he was talking and, um, like on the school’s website, you can find like their school motto, what they’re all about, their diversity statements, all of these ideas about what the school is in a like grandiose way.
Um, when he was speaking, he had said something that wasn’t on the website, but it really resonated with me and I used it as a frame for my essay and I think I did quote him. Um, but he was talking about how Cornell’s College of Human Ecology is, like talking about the, um, what now and the how so, and the, I forgot the [00:45:00] exact words, but that really helped me to like frame, um, my essay because he was talking about like, , essentially the purpose of the school and what he was saying about the purpose and how it takes students to really fulfilling their purpose really gave me a better idea of how I would use Cornell and how I was gonna write about it in the Y school question.
Um, so that is something that you can use. It may not be like, oh, I just really like the campus, but it could just be like something that was very thought provoking on the tour. Something you really enjoyed about the people. Um, different things like that. Um, going on to the next question a student is asking, um, uh, what are some things, uh, oh, sorry.
Um, what are helpful questions to ask during your tour? Yeah, so I think a couple questions. Again, I think I’ve mentioned some of these in, uh, like previous questions are, , depending on whether you’re talking to a professor or a student or an admissions officer, like you might [00:46:00] wanna ask more about the classes, the department, if it’s an admissions officer, you might wanna ask more about like the process of applying.
Um, and then for students more about like the culture and the community. Um, yeah, and I think that’s kind of like an overview of some of the specific questions I’ve mentioned and a couple other questions. Mm-hmm. , uh, going off of that as soon as asking can, um, admissions officers answer my, uh, any questions I have, like if I want to know more about a certain major or type of room and board, um, I think they’ll probably have a good idea of like room and board.
Um, because they often also work financial aid officers to do that. They might refer you to a financial aid officer. Um, when it comes to classes, like they’ll probably have an overarching idea, like they will know the departments or like kind of the. , the majors that are available, but they won’t necessarily know specifics about like the courses or the plan of study.
Those would be better questions for staff of that specific major’s department. Mm-hmm. [00:47:00] students are also a good one. Uh, most of the times the tours or even just when you’re sitting in the waiting room, there will be student, if it’s during the school year, there’ll be like student ambassadors. And I know for me, um, when I was there, I was able to speak with someone who was in the major that I was interested in applying to.
So I was able to ask her about like what her experience was like, what the program is like, what sort of courses or additional programming is available through it. So that can also be a good way to find out what the actual program itself is gonna be like, um, beyond just what’s said on like the website.
Uh, going on to the next question, um, when should students start touring colleges, like, uh, grade, um, range, timing, et cetera? . Yeah. So I think that most students can start like touring even like their sophomore year. Um, I think freshman year like, could be helpful, but, um, I think technically, like there is students who’ve been touring since, like they were in [00:48:00] elementary school and their parents took them to the school that they hoped their students would get into.
Like, there, there’s a joke of like, when you’re walking through Harvard, like you see a lot of like little children, like with Harvard shirts and their parents taking pictures of them. Um, and so technically you could start going very early on. You could be familiar with the campus, but I think where you get the most out of it is really in your sophomore and junior, sophomore, junior, senior year, sophomore year.
Because again, you could potentially like start getting a sense for like, if you’re not just touring, but actually being part of a program that could be really helpful. Your junior year is the most helpful. I, in my, in my experience just, . Um, it gives you a sense of, okay, what schools do I really wanna apply to?
And then senior year is the most helpful when it comes to like, okay, now that I know what schools I’ve, I’ve applied to, or which ones like I, you know, are my top, actually going in person can really help. Just define like where, like where does my commute, where do I feel most at home? Where like, where, you know, where do I feel good?
Like this is a [00:49:00] place I wouldn’t be in for. , uh, a student’s asking can use college advisor to find out some of the information mentioned. And yes. Um, for those in the room who are already working with us, we know that the admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike. Uh, our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts such as Maria and myself, are ready to help you and your family navigate it on one-on-one advising sessions.
Take charge of your family’s college admissions journey by signing up for a free strategy session with an admissions expert by scanning the QR code on the screen. Um, just to give a little bit of information about College Advisor we offer, um, Personalized or individualized, um, advising services, uh, where you’ll get matched with an advisor, usually someone that’s either attending or was accepted into a school that you’re interested in.
Um, we also try and match if you’re interested in pre-med or a specific program or major. Um, and then you’ll be able to work with them, um, throughout the admissions process [00:50:00] whenever you choose to start. And, um, you get help with your essays, building your college list, figuring out what it’s gonna be like on campus, which is why it’s really great to have someone, um, matched with that goes to the school you’re interested in cuz they can really give you a more inside look.
Uh, and they’ll just guide you through the, out the entire admissions office. And I am seeing some questions about things like early admissions, um, how to apply to school, what the common f is. Your advisor will help you with finding out all that information. And you can also check out our other webs, our other [email protected] advisor.com/webinars.
Um, but now back to the q and a. Uh, okay. So going on to the next question. Um, uh, how can international students determine if, uh, school in the US is going to be a good fit for them? Especially if they’re unable to visit the us? I would say definitely take advantage of like the virtual tours. Um, I would also say you could ask, you could call the admissions officer and say like, you know, I’m [00:51:00] an international student.
It’s really expensive for me to go on a person in-person visit, but I would love to talk to, uh, a current, like attending student. And there’s oftentimes programs where you could speak to like, current, current students that either work at the financial or admissions office or, um, our like, you know, just part of the school and part of a network where they can be reached out.
Uh, going on to the next question a student is asking, um, what are some important things to be mindful of when considering colleges should friends be a factor too? And then another student was asking, um, where did it go, um, uh, for the categories, um, that you mentioned earlier in the webinar, like location, cost and other things.
Um, which one would you suggest starting off with when starting to research schools? Yeah, so for the first question, I think like, friends are a factor in like, it’s like really nice to be able to go to a school where you have like friends there, um, people who can like, especially [00:52:00] if they’re like older and may, may already know like the system and can help you, like be a mentor to you.
I would say it’s not the end all. Beall, like a great thing about college is like, it’s a place, it’s a place where a lot of people like change and grow. And so friends that you might have been like really good friends with in high school, again, might change and grow and like new friendships develop, friendships grow.
Um, and so what I would say is like, I still have like really great friends from high school that I keep in touch who didn’t go to my school. And there’s a lot of like my closest friends that came from being in like a brand new college that I would have not met unless I had gone there. And so I would say don’t make it like, while it is like an important factor to keep in mind, I wouldn’t say it’s like, it should be a defining factor.
I think definitely like think more about what’s the career like, what’s, what are the things you wanna study and what are the like ambitions that you have for like your studies and your career. Um, where do you get really good financial aid? Um, even thinking about like what are some of like the resources the schools gives you?
Um, and [00:53:00] then like, again, have like friends and social, like more social factors in consideration, but definitely don’t make them a priority. Mm-hmm. , um, in this, in this like very important, um, decision making process. Um, and then the question about, can you repeat the second question? Sorry. Uh, where is it? Um, uh, okay.
Um, I believe it was, um, sorry it’s in the published SEC section now, but, um, oh yeah, like the factors that you listed, um, with dealing with like, um, location, cost, uh, et cetera. Um, which one, um, do you think is for the categories? Would the one suggested by you guys in another webinar? Which one would be a good one to start while I butchered that
Yeah, no worries. So, um, I would say maybe starting out with. , like location, just start out like with like cities and like geography of like where you would want to like live. [00:54:00] Um, I think that there’s a difference between like, which category do you wanna put as like a, like a starting point of your research versus like a starting point of like, like just the column head.
I think if it’s like your research, I would start off with like the schools that you are already interested in, the schools that you’ve already like maybe done some research on or already have in mind. If you’re talking about like, what’s the first column of like your, um, like your spreadsheet, I’d probably put like your, the college name and then after I would probably put like, The location just because it’s e at least for me, that’s like how my mind works.
I’m like, okay, I’m applying to schools in this region. I’m applying to schools in this region. Um, so that’s how I would separate the two. Yes. And there are some questions on like IB and, um, what colleges are looking for in an essay. Check out our other webinars that go into more specific details about those topics.
Uh, you can find them [email protected] slash webinars. And we do have like a specific webinar that goes [00:55:00] over AP versus IB versus dual enrollment. Um, what classes you should be taking as a high school student. Uh, and then also, um, we have very detailed webinars on like how to write college essays from the personal statement to the supplement.
So do check those out. Um, but. Going on to the next question. Oh. And also, um, if you’re interested, if the school is, um, test optional or requiring the S A T A Z T check on their website. But going on to the next question, do all colleges offer pre-freshman weekend program? Uh, not all schools do that, so I would definitely like take a look on their website to see if that’s available.
I would say a lot of the IVs do. Um, but, uh, definitely look on their website for more specific details. Cause it’s very college specific. Yes. And, um, for like Cornell, um, and, um, other programs may do this. They, um, there are programs where it’s like during May, right before you decide on which school, but then they also do have summer [00:56:00] programs.
So at Cornell we have the pre-summer, um, freshman program, some P S P, uh, and that one is you get invited to it based on, um, , what should I call it? Uh, like your grades, um, where you’re from, your background. Um, again, these programs usually do have to do a diversity and inclusion or they’re, um, to get, um, more students to admit to the school, enrolled in the school.
And then, um, but the p s P program at Cornell is, um, you have to be invited to it. So not all programs are gonna invite everybody. So that is something also to consider. Um, but at what is another question? Um, uh, so going on, um, to the next question a student is asking, um, who else besides coaches should you speak to during the tour?
I know we’ve mentioned this a bit, but, um, yeah. So there’s coaches, there’s admissions officers, [00:57:00] financial aid officers, um, professors and other students. . And if you’re looking for those other webinars, you can go to our website, the link is in the [email protected] advisor.com/webinars. And then when you get to that page, you can just type in the keywords such as essay or college tour or Harvard, and it’ll pull up all the webinars related to those keywords.
Um, going on to the next tour, uh, students asking, um, do virtual tours really de uh, actually depict, um, a school? Well? Yeah. So I think that’s similar to the other question about like, you know, are are they worth it? And I would answer similarly just saying like, um, I think it’s more. , it gives a little bit more life to some information that you can already find on the website.
I would say it’s definitely not the same as going in person. Like being able to go and feel out the campus, see like the students, that’s like quite different. But I would say it’s still like, well, one, it’s the [00:58:00] school that’s making it. So obviously they’re gonna paint, paint it in the Be best light. Right?
Um, you have a limited frame and so it’s usually gonna be the best of the school. So just keep that in mind as you’re, as you’re signing up for them. But I would say usually just help to see like a video instead of like pictures or written words. Mm-hmm. . And also if you are unable to visit, just being able to like Google or look on YouTube for like tours of the city and the surrounding area can be good.
Um, not only will you be on camp, you won’t be on campus the whole time. So it is good to get a feel for like, what the actual area is like, um, if it’s gonna be, um, located in like the heart of a city like Harvard, or if it’s gonna be located far, far away from everything like Cornell. Um, and just getting an idea of like what other opportunities are available around town.
Um, but going on to the next question, I believe this will be the final one. You can just give any last advice after. But how, um, what is the best way to show interest in a school, even if you can’t visit in [00:59:00] person? Um, yeah, I would say like just even if you can’t visit in person, like just doing really good research on like the different like activities, the different classes that are available and like being able to weave those into your essays and into your common.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation, uh, in the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful again, and remember that you can download the side from link in the handouts tab and you can find this webinar again on our [email protected] advisor.com/webinars. Thank you to our wonderful present to Maria for all this great information about, um, college visits.
Here’s the rest of our January series where we’ll have different, um, webinars on various app parts of the application process, especially for our newer students. Um, I’m assuming there are mostly juniors on this call. Um, so do check out our other webinars where you can find out more about different aspects of the admissions process.
I would definitely recommend watching a webinar that goes over the entirety of the admissions [01:00:00] process, um, just so you can get an idea of what’s to come over the next few months. And so you can find out more about our services [email protected]. But thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our presenter and goodnight.
Thank you. Goodnight.