Maximizing Your College Visits
Get the inside scoop on how to make the most of your virtual or in-person college visits. In a 60-minute webinar and Q&A, Harvard alum and CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert Maria Acosta Robayo will give her insider knowledge on what to do when on a college visit, both before applying and after. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-06-14 Maximizing Your College Visits
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Maximizing Your College Visits. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hey everyone. My name is Maria Acosta Robayo and I was in the class of Harvard’s, uh, class of 2020 at Harvard. Where I studied sociology and global health policy and was on a premed track. Um, I am currently doing government consulting in DC, so not currently in med school, um, but still really getting a chance to enjoy, um, a mix of sociology and health policy.
Um, and look forward to how some of those things might meet with medicine in the. Great. And real quick before we get started, uh, we just wanna take a quick pull. So what grade are you entering this fall? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can [00:01:00] be if you’re a transfer student or taking a gap year, and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your child is going into.
And while we wait for those responses to roll in, um, Maria, can you tell us, uh, did you visit any schools in your college admissions process? Sure thing. So I only visited the schools in Florida, so I’m originally from Miami. Um, and I didn’t, for two reason, I, um, the college trips that were happening, um, for my school or that my school was sponsoring, um, they were in my junior year near like AP season.
And so I thought it was a little bit too much of a crunch to like take two weeks off, to go, uh, a week and a half, um, to go visit schools. And then, um, I also. Um, found that I could use a lot of the virtual tours that were available and could just visit the schools near me. So I did visit FIU, uh, Florida international university, um, FIU, Florida, um, uh, F AU, Florida Atlantic [00:02:00] university, and then, um, UN university of Miami.
Great. And it’s looking like we have, um, 20%, 10th graders, 27%, 11th graders, 47% 12th graders making up the majority and then on 7% other, uh, so yeah, so, uh, a lot of 12th graders are about to start their college tours.
Great. So I think that, um, this is gonna be helpful for anyone, regardless of what year you’re. If you are, um, a rising senior, this is especially helpful because it’s gonna be, um, a good opportunity to learn about some of the things that you might want to look into before starting your, uh, either virtual or your in person visits.
Um, and so we’ll start with a question of when is a good time for students to actually begin researching schools. And so I think the earliest that you can do it the better, um, to just get an idea of things that you might be excited. But the level or the depth at which you do, some of that research is gonna [00:03:00] vary a lot.
So you can start as early as middle school. I know that the idea of college came up to me for the first time in, in middle school. Um, it, but I really wouldn’t ramp it up until high school, middle school. You’re still, you know, learning a lot of things that, you know, you’re focusing on your grades, you’re focusing on school, on your friends and then like you get to high school.
And all of a sudden you’re like, okay, there’s actual to-dos to, to get into college. And. I would say if you’re someone in middle school, I think that there wasn’t anybody, um, maybe there was an eighth grader. I’m not sure, but most of you were in high school. And so I would say if you’re in high school, I would start ramping up the research, um, progressively.
So, um, I would say for ninth and 10th graders, you should probably start thinking about the type of school that you want to attend. So do you maybe wanna attend a liberal art school or do you maybe wanna attend something that’s a little bit more technical? You wanna learn a specific. Um, I would think about what majors or extracurriculars interest you, what are the types of topics that you really enjoy studying in school?[00:04:00]
Um, what location do you wanna spend your next four years in? Maybe you already know that you love your hometown. You love the schools there you’ve been to their football games, or, um, you really enjoy the community there. And maybe, you know, you wanna, you wanna stay there, but maybe, you know that, um, even though, um, Maybe you want to go to like a different state, but you don’t know what state that is yet.
So maybe some of those like regional research of like, where would I wanna live in the next four years or not next four years, but for four years of your life, um, is some of the research that you can start doing in ninth and 10th. And I think in 11th grade, you should actually get down to the weeds of, um, making a spreadsheet with your advisor and starting to do more of the in depth research, um, to figure out what schools you wanna.
And to rank your desired schools. And in this presentation, I’ll talk a little bit more about some of the categories that you could look into. To make that spreadsheet. Um, but the overall, um, like key takeaway here is that starting early just gives you more [00:05:00] time. It allows you to apply, um, to more summer or winter break programs that colleges might be hosting.
And so you could actually, if you have a better sense of where you wanna go, you could start looking at some of the opportunities that they offer high school students. Um, you could also informally tour colleges through other trips with family and friends. So I know that. I didn’t get to visit like schools very intentionally my junior year, but there were schools that I had seen in campuses I had seen just because I was in the city, um, with friends and family.
And so again, getting a better sense earlier on can help you double dip, like some of those trips with maybe like a potential campus visit. Um, so the next question here is like, okay, Maybe I’m making my, my spreadsheet. I’m thinking about what categories are important to me, but I don’t really know what factors I should consider when beginning a school list.
And so I’ve listed a couple here that I think is just a good, like starting point. You might have other things that you think are really important that you wanna consider that are specific to [00:06:00] you. Um, but some general ones include the location. So that’s both the geographic location. Maybe you really hate the cold.
And you’re like, I wanna be below a certain like line of latitude. Like there’s I definitely don’t wanna be cold. Maybe you already have certain regions picked out. Um, maybe it’s in relation to other facilities or opportunities. Um, I knew that for me as a pre-med student, I wanted to be close to a lot of research institutions, a lot of universities and hospitals, where I could do research and I could shadow doctors.
So being near an urban center that was focused on like medical, um, medical work was really important. Also the type of college, like I mentioned before, you might be interested in a more technical skill. Um, then you might be looking at colleges that are in liberal arts, but rather ones that really focus on this one program or this one major, um, if you are unsure like what you wanna do, but you still wanna get a really well-rounded education and maybe you have a, a major that you think would be really [00:07:00] cool to try out, but you don’t wanna be locked into, this is the one thing that I have to do because I’m applying for this.
Program of study. Then maybe you wanna look into the liberal arts program that usually has a little bit more flexibility on what you end up majoring in. I would also look at the admissions rate and I think this is gonna be really important, not necessarily to constrict you to only applying to some colleges or not.
But I think it does allow you to, to have a strategy for how you’re gonna. To different types of schools. And I’m gonna, uh, mention, I’m gonna go into this a little bit more further in the presentation. So I’ll just say that admissions rates are, are important factors to consider as you’re making your list.
And as you’re deciding where to, where to tour, where to apply. Um, financial aid. I think it’s also a big reality that, um, you know, you might not have, um, like the college funds to necessarily pay for all of college and therefore financial aid might be really important for you and your family. Uh, you might need to look into if their [00:08:00] schools are associated with, for example, um, like matching programs like QuestBridge or.
There’s other programs available where they allow you to, uh, apply through their, through their program and can match you with schools and have certain levels of financial aid. And so a consideration might be is a school part of a program that allows me to apply early and be matched to a school. Um, you might be looking at study abroad opportunities.
I know a lot of students really care about, um, spending a semester abroad learning a new language, meeting people from different cultures and college is a great, uh, time to do that. And so. I think study abroad opportunities are definitely something that you should consider, um, what different schools offer.
Um, and then I would say definitely, I think this is one, um, a point that’s usually not talked about, but the professor is that actually teach at that university. There might be something. Um, and yeah, I think Mackenzie just put something on the chat, the posse and QuestBridge, uh, are the two main ones that I know of.
And I think [00:09:00] that those are both matching programs with different schools throughout the country. And so definitely take a look at those there’s some early deadlines coming up in the fall. And so definitely if you’re interested in schools in those programs, I would start doing more research into what that process would be like.
Um, but going back to the professors, um, there might be professors that are like the top of their field, but they’re in, uh, like across different universities and maybe the ones that are in the department or. Major that you wanna study or in a specific school. So think about like, who are the thought leaders who are the, the.
The people really driving, um, new data in your field and maybe think about where they’re associate, where, where they are, either professors or associate professors or visiting lectures, um, how they’re affiliated to that school, because it could open doors to doing research, to learning about other networks, to just having somebody write a letter of recommendation in the future, if you’re going to grad school.
And so definitely think about what professors are [00:10:00] available. And you can do that by going into the website and the school’s website. And usually every school’s website has, um, like under a department. So like, if you’re, for me, it was like the department of sociology. It had all the lectures and guest lectures and, um, all those information, all that information on people who are part of the department.
And then I would also consider your, the social and Greek life on campus. Um, like any other college campus. Harvard was one where you have to study really hard, but there was also a lot of opportunities to engage in community with people. And so I knew that when I was choosing schools, I wanted to think about, okay, where could I meet a lot of people?
Um, where were there opportunities to maybe get to know people who were of my same career interest or ethnic background or other, um, other affinity groups. And so definitely think about that. I would think about, um, if you, if you think like sports, like athletic. um, if division like one through three [00:11:00] are like the NCAA is like really important for you think about like, do you wanna be attending a school?
That’s like division one, do you want to attend a school where even if you’re not playing, um, a sport, you’re still able to engage in that campus culture, um, of going to games. So these are all again, starting categories that you could put in your spreadsheet. Um, and then. Obviously we’re at a time where a lot of things may have shifted from what we might have said.
If we were doing this presentation five years ago, um, with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, um, we’ve also seen shifts in the way the schools do their visits and their tours. Um, and that might also affect the way that you plan to do visits or research colleges. . And so, um, I would say that in 20, 20, 20 and 2021, obviously lots of schools.
I mean, they either, you were like studying remotely or you were, you had very strict lockdowns in schools. And so there was definitely limited school visits, um, that were mostly replaced by virtual tours. [00:12:00] Um, but now that, uh, in 22, 20 22 is mandates and. Um, different protocols have either retired or lessened.
There are more campuses that are offering tours, but this really varies from school to school. So I would definitely think about what school you’d want to visit and look at their website and see if they have, um, in person tours. However, I think that regardless of what their current position is now, overall, there has a legacy of that 2020.
2020 and 2021 virtual tour push. Is that now that now a lot of people have invested in actually doing those virtual tours and therefore there is greater accessibility to visit campuses without actually having to spend money on a trip. Um, and this is important for two reasons. One, it gives you the flexibility to visit more of the ones that you like and still get a sense of what the other campuses on your list are like.
Um, you might want to maybe visit just the top ones and maybe. You were really struggling to choose one or the other. And now it makes it a lot easier to think [00:13:00] about like, okay, I can still do a tour. Um, like maybe you wanna do a regional tour, you visit the Northeast schools. And if the only ones that you wanted to apply to in the west coast were like one or two versus like six or seven on the east coast.
Maybe you go and do the regional tour in one place. And now you don’t have to like, stop going to, um, stop getting that research. You can. Do the virtual part for those other schools. Um, and I think that one thing to note there is that you do have to do some backend research to know what you want to attend in person.
Um, but that’s something that you would’ve had to do anyways before. It’s just, now you also have this in between opportunity of, um, also seeing the school virtually. Um, so where should you start your college search process? Um, I think this is just the advice that I would give, because this is what I did and what I, um, have helped.
A lot of my students do a CollegeAdvisor. Um, first make a spreadsheet to log all of your research. And this is helpful [00:14:00] because you might have a lot of ideas and you might think that you could hold it all in your head, but when it comes to comparing very specific things, Admissions rates or programs of study or specific professors.
It’s really hard to hold it all in, in your head or on a memo. And so it’s really easy to compare if you’re using a spreadsheet. Um, and you could start with your F the way I started. And again, the way I motivate a lot of my students to start, this is to start with your favorite school. Um, use a search engine like Google or any other search engine that you use, and, um, Google the school’s website to fill out the categories for each school of interest.
So go on their website and look out. The programs of studies, all those categories that I listed in a previous slide. Um, but also keep an eye out for additional categories that you might wanna add. For example, the research opportunities, like I mentioned, sports events, there’s other things that might be very specific to you and what you wanna do and what you wanna get out of your college experience that you can find that as you like.
Go through different websites. [00:15:00] Um, and then you can start finding additional schools by looking at the rankings for schools, with your intended major. Or you can look at schools in the area that you want to live in, um, or even by indexing, by other categories that you think are the most important. So I would, again, like the steps would be, make a spreadsheet to house everything.
Then start with your favorite school and maybe fill in some of the categories that I gave in the previous. And then as you’re researching that, think about what other categories are important to me and look at schools that might fit those categories. Um, and then, um, if, if you don’t find something on the website, which is a big possibility, some of them are pretty clunky, um, fill in the gaps by reaching out to admissions officers, um, in that school or to students or recent alumni that went.
And I think that they often give a really good, like down to earth perspective about, um, the school, especially the, the students or alumni, um,
Yes. And real quick, we’re gonna do another quick poll. So where [00:16:00] 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. And also I’ve added some links and different things in the chat.
If you would like to check those out, um, thrive scholars is a great, um, program for low income and minority students. If you would like to get, um, free college services and then they also do a lot of tours and they just went back in person this year and real quick while we’re waiting for responses to roll in.
Um, uh, Maria, can you tell us, uh, where, uh, how would you describe your college, um, search process and how many schools were on your list? Sure. So, um, the primary concern for me was, um, the financial aid. Um, I knew I didn’t have like a college fund and so. Um, this is a very risky strategy that I, um, I had also, I moved to the us with like my family from Columbia, um, at a time where like none of us knew the college application process.
And so I would say now I would do it very differently. I would’ve been more strategic, [00:17:00] but the way that I did it was I only applied to either schools that were within like a certain mile radius of my house so that I could save money by living at home. Or I applied to. Reach schools, like, honestly like the Ivys, um, who I knew had the endowments to give me full financial aid.
And so I really went from one extreme to the other. I had like no target schools, um, which again is not a great strategy. I, I didn’t have any advisors really didn’t know what I was doing. And so, um, it was a really big blessing to get into some of the IVs. But I think that in retrospect, I would’ve definitely have done a more comprehensive strategy.
so it’s looking like we have 15%, haven’t started 75% are researching schools. So this is a great place to be. And the last 10% are working on their essays. Amazing. Well, I think that you will find, um, something for all of you, regardless of what step you are in this process. And so, um, I’m gonna start with [00:18:00] some like foundational knowledge about we, we keep on talking about like these different types of schools.
And so when it comes to application strategy, There’s a category of, I kind of would just call ’em like an application category of, are you applying to a safety school, a target school or a reach? The way that these are most commonly associated is, or what they’re most commonly associated with are the admissions rates and the ranking of the school.
Um, safety are usually the higher admissions rates or no admissions cap. So these are the schools that you are thinking like I’m gonna get into a college. And so I’m applying to the school because no matter what, I’m going to college. Um, so you would apply to, to a couple in this category, again, as a way to ensure that you’re going to college for.
Then target schools are great schools, but usually have the medium range of admissions rates. So you still like have to be a good student. You have to like do the process of, of applying and getting in. And it’s a competitive [00:19:00] process still, but the admissions rates just mean that more students can get in.
So while it’s still competitive, still high ranking, it’s less competitive than the next category, which is your reach schools. And these are the top tier tier score schools, but the lowest admissions rates, um, usually a lot of them, like if you look at the IVs, a lot of them in the single digits. Um, and even if, and what that means is that even if you’re a fantastic student, you can have like straight A’s, like 4.0 perfect.
S a T a C T scores. You might still not get in because the low admission rates just means that it’s really difficult to have everyone get into that school. Uh, well impossible because of their solo. Um, and this is why it’s really important to apply to several target and safety schools. Um, definitely don’t.
Like, there’s still people who get into these schools. So definitely shoot your shot, like, think about which ones you want to apply to be strategic. Like don’t apply to only reach schools, but definitely think about which ones would be the best fit for [00:20:00] you. And where do you wanna devote your time and energy to applying?
Because these usually do have like some extensive essays. Um, not all of them. Harvard only had the personal statement and a optional essay. Um, but for example, Stanford had. Like short essays, long essays, mini questions. Like there it’s, it’s a process and, um, it takes time and effort. And so I would be very intentional about, um, the reach, how many reach schools you apply to and which ones, um, which, um, brings me to, okay.
Like how do I know which ones are safety target and which schools for me, specif. And so I would say that put yourself in the scenario of just asking yourself, you know, which are the schools that are close to my home and somewhere that, or somewhere that you currently live, where you can have a higher financial safety net.
So whatever those schools are, those are probably some of your safety schools. And for example, if you live right next to Harvard, that’s probably not your safety school. Like you have to think about these schools as like schools that are close to you, but [00:21:00] also have high admissions rates or no cap on admissions.
But that’s true for everybody. I’m just saying that to think about, more specific about which ones for you. I would think about your area, like draw a circle around where you would still be able to live at home or have a high financial safety net. Um, then now we think of the target schools as the ones that you would really enjoy going to have that 20% plus admissions rate.
And have the programs of study that you wanna pursue. There’s I think target schools are like the largest category of schools. Like there’s target schools everywhere. So just think about like what location you wanna live in which programs you wanna, uh, pursue. And then also take a look at if there’s any GPA or academic requirements.
Um, I find that there’s. For target schools specifically there’s U that’s usually where the most like requirements are. Um, safety schools usually don’t have as many requirements. And then the reach schools, again, the pendulum kind of swings the other way and, or like almost full circle. And they also often don’t have like a GPA requirement.
Um, but they are [00:22:00] more competitive. Um, even though they don’t have that requirement. Oftentimes. Um, and so the reach schools are the ones that you would really love to go to your dream schools, but again, have that low admissions rate. And, um, like I mentioned, again, some of those single digit admissions rates rate schools don’t have a GPA requirement, but it’s still really important to check just to make sure, um, Great.
And so coming back to the school visits, um, so what do you usually learn during, during these school visits? So I think there’s some basic things that you probably will learn regardless of what, what visit you go to probably will learn some of the school history, the mission, alumni achievement, some of the generic things about the school.
But what I think is the most helpful for students is that it also gives you a better idea of campus life. Especially if you’re going at a time where there are students around, you can get a sense for like, are people chatting in the courtyards or is everybody like zooming past to like get to school or to get to class?
Like there is different like [00:23:00] vibes or like environments around the schools, depending on what students get admitted, what type of protocols and structures there are, um, for campus life. It also is helpful for students because it helps to answer some specific academic and extracurricular questions that you might have.
Um, usually the person giving the tour, or if you get a chance to meet with like someone from the admissions office, um, you get to ask some of those questions in person. Um, And then it also, uh, allows you to get a better sense for campus layout and the proximity of different buildings. And this is actually really important because, um, I know, depending on what school you go to, like your dorm might be pretty far from where you actually like take classes and.
Especially for, for students who might have any type of physical disability, like that can be a really real consideration. Um, thinking about whether there is accessibility and the buildings that you are looking at. Um, so all of these are important considerations. Um, and then lastly, I think it’s also, um, you, [00:24:00] what you could learn is you, you could also get from, uh, potentially meeting.
Coaches or other few inside boxes of things like classes or, um, if you want to play a, a sport at a, at a NCAA level, um, or other personnel who can tell you more about the school specifically.
Um, and so how can you find out, we’ve been talking about virtual visits, but how can you actually find out if a school offers them? Um, again, Google is your friend or whatever your preferred search engine is. You could type in X like the name of the school virtual visit. And if the school has a tour, it will usually pop up as one of the top fines.
Um, and I would look to make sure that it’s in, within the school’s website. So it has that.edu and it’s part of the schools because. I mean, you might, you could take tours that somebody else made, but, um, if you’re looking for a school tour, you’re definitely looking for the.edu URL. Um, and then if you can’t [00:25:00] find it there, I would say you can E just email the admissions office to ask if they have virtual tours available.
Um, and you can do that by finding the email of the, of the admissions office on the school’s.
Um, so I talked a little bit about my strategy, um, which again, I would not advise, but, so what I would advise is that on your finalized school list, um, that you think about, and this is gonna be very specific depending on your budget. Um, because there are application fees that can be a limitation. . And so I would think about maybe having a mix of 10 to 12 schools total, uh, maybe one to two safety schools, at least, um, five to six target schools and two to three reach schools.
Um, and this, you might, you can like play around with those numbers a little bit, but I think that this is like a standard where you have, you know, at least one or two schools that, you know, for sure you’re gonna get into, like, you’re gonna go to college. Maybe five to six schools that give you the opportunity to like leverage your [00:26:00] financial aid package.
So let’s say you get into a couple of those target schools and really what’s making the difference is how much money they’re offering you applying to more is not just like, oh, then I know which ones I can get into. It could also give you, it could also give you some leverage to negotiate the financial aid package that you get at your preferred.
And then two to three reach schools, because I do think that, um, a lot of the reach schools do have the mentality of while they do want like very high caliber students with grade grades. Like there isn’t like. One size fits all. Like there are students who had much lower grades than I did, who also got, got into Harvard.
And there are students who got much higher grades than I did, or much higher scores than I did, who did not get into Harvard. And so I would say don’t put yourself in the box of like, oh, for sure, I’m not getting into this because I got like a couple BS or like a C or something like that. Like I would think about like, am I someone who would thrive at this school?
Am I someone who. Yes, it’s a academically rigorous school. Um, it’s [00:27:00] different than maybe applying to a school where there might be a bigger emphasis on like sport, like, uh, on, for example, if you’re going to, you know, one of the schools that like, especially in the south, like where football is like such an important part of your life, like that might be something that like, you’re not getting at other schools.
And so think about more of like those big aspects of. What do I want to be part of my college life and think about, does the school offer that? And if it does then think about like, okay, I will write the best that I can in my essays about why I belong at this school and shoot your shot at some of these reach schools.
Um, and then some students wonder the very practical question of if you should connect with an admissions officer during your visit. And what I would say is definitely if you have questions. Tried to connect with them because they would probably give you like very good school specific answers. But what I would also say is that admissions officers or AOS are really busy.
So it could, it could be hard to schedule a time that’s once you [00:28:00] might not get one, but two, if you do get one and you don’t really have any questions, like you would kind of be wasting their time. If you don’t have anything that you. Gain from their like knowledge. And so you want to ask questions that are genuine questions about the school, about your, how you could best prepare like your questions about whether that’s a good fit for you, because that will showcase your curiosity and your interest in that school.
Um, and some final advice before we go into some Q and a, um, is to definitely do some in depth research about the schools that you’re interested in before deciding on the college visits, you don’t want to, you know, after you, you schedule your plane ticket, you have everything ready for your trip. Realize that actually this is not a school that you’re that interested in visiting.
So definitely make sure that you give yourself enough time to do some of the. You come up with some of those questions that you might wanna know from your visit and ask yourself, do I need a visit in person to get information about [00:29:00] this? Um, and so doing this will get will help you to again, invest more in, into those visits.
It’ll help you to get more out of them and just come with a clear purpose and vision for what you want to learn.
All right. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember that you can download the side from the link in the handout tab, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read your questions. You submitted in the Q and a tab and read them a lot before our panelist 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 joined the webinar through the customly sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page or the. Site, um, just because you won’t get all the features of big markers, so just make sure you join through that, um, custom link and now we can get started.
So our first question is, oh yeah. And y’all can start submitting your questions to the Q and a top. Uh, so our first question is, uh, should a student wait until after they are accepted into a school to visit or visit before applying or being [00:30:00] accepted? Yeah. So I think that, well, that’s a great question. Um, I think it depends, it varies from student to student.
You might be, um, you will definitely get really helpful context for how to potentially write your essays if you do it before. Um, but that’s something that you could also get from, um, talking to alumni, talking to students. And so it’s not necessary. So I just wanna drill that point in, because I don’t want anyone to feel like, oh my gosh, if I haven’t visited a school, then like I’m at a disadvantage for writing my essays or for applying to the school.
I think it’s definitely helpful, but I think. What you actually need for your application is a lot more of like retrospective or introspective and like really more in depth knowledge about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for the school. Um, and you can get some of that context of like, okay, is the, is the school a good fit for me through the website?
And so what I would, or [00:31:00] through their website in talking to students. So I would say, think really critically about. okay. If it comes down to like, do I really wanna live here for four years? Um, there are there things that like are really similar at another school and I just can’t make up my mind. Should I go visit?
I would say yes. If you have the budget, if you have the time, feel free to do that. Um, if you are then after you apply and you know what schools you’re going to, or what schools have accepted. That can narrow it down to. Okay. Which schools, maybe like your top two schools are, are, are saying are accepting you, maybe the one thing that would really set them apart is you going and actually feeling out the campus.
And a lot of the times schools will, um, especially if you get into like a reach school, they will have a, um, like a pre-pro weekend where they’ll allow you to like come and maybe stay at one of the dorms and actually have activities for you to do. And so you could get a better sense for. So I would say that’s [00:32:00] a long way of saying, if you feel like you really need to know more about the campus, like feel to get a better sense of like the building to get a better sense of like what opportunities there are by being there.
Definitely do that before the, before you apply. I would say, be very strategic about that. And if you can do that regionally, like go visit a region and visit the schools in that region, that might be the best strategy it’s not necessary. After you apply and you get, you know, which ones you get into, it could narrow it down to which ones you could actually go and invest in and potentially offer the opportunity for you to have specific programming for a pre fr like accepted, uh, students.
Mm-hmm, kind of going off of that. You did mention this in your answer, but just to go in a little bit deeper, how can students and specifically parents reduce the cost of college visits, particularly the, particularly those out of state visits. Yeah. So I think, um, the main strategy has been to do regional regional visits.
So if there’s a [00:33:00] lot of look at the schools that are, um, the top ones on your list and think about, are there ways that I could figure out how to go to all of them in one trip? Um, I would think about, are there upcoming, like family trips or friendships near that school or near schools that can really give you a sense for maybe like you can compare a little bit more like maybe.
Um, I know for sure, like our school did like a. Trip where they went up and down Florida and they looked at those schools. And so think about whether your schools will offer like, um, maybe cheaper trips, if you go all together. Um, if that isn’t available in your school, maybe you can talk to your counselor or your college counselor, the admin in school and see if there’s a potential for the school to do that.
Um, you still obviously like usually there’s charge, like that’s still. Costly, but it will probably be less than if your whole family’s going to visit. Um, and then I would just say, think really strategically about, do I [00:34:00] really need to go to this campus? Like, does it really help me to get a better sense of the school?
Because it is a lot of money to pay for tickets, to pay for hotels. Um, I mean, pay for gas now. Um, so I think that it’s really important to have a really clear purpose for. Why you, why you wanna do a visit and think about, can I meet those needs? Can I meet that purpose through a virtual visit or through talking to people who went to that school?
another option you can think of is flying programs. Uh, they were canceled a lot because of COVID, but they are slowly starting to come back. So there is a link in the chat, um, with more information about what those are and which schools offer them. But pretty much they are free or low cost programs where schools will fly you in, hence the name fly in programs.
Um, and you get to stay there for a night or two and you get to go around the campus, meet the other students, similar to the pre-pro program. Only. This is for rising. Seniors who haven’t applied yet and different schools [00:35:00] have different, um, qualifications costs or freeness. Um, so definitely check those out.
Um, moving it, uh, moving on to the next question. How many colleges, uh, should a person, um, visit in person? Um, like, is there a specific number is one enough or more, or do you need more? Yeah. So I think that goes back to, um, just thinking strategically, like maybe you’re really, really unsure between lots of different schools and like, you just feel like very convicted that you need to go to these schools to get a sense of like what’s going on.
Um, maybe that’s more than one. Maybe it’s really helpful for you to visit a couple. I would say, just be very. Thoughtful about whether you actually need to do that. Like, you might just need to go to one that you’re like, maybe it’s your dream school. And you’re like, I have all these, like, you know, expectations that come from movies, [00:36:00] from books, from teachers telling me about this school.
But like, I don’t know if this school is for me. That’s maybe a reason to just go to that one school and think like, okay, is the hype, is the hype actually there? Like, is, is it, is it a counter for, is, is it worth it? and so like that’s maybe an one example of someone just needing to go to one school. Maybe you’re really torn between two schools and you’re like, there is no way I can choose between these two schools, unless I go and visit maybe the number there is then two.
So I think it just goes back to that initial answer of like, it really depends on what your current situation is and whether you really think that you need to be there in person. Uh, kind of going off of that. Um, when you were talking about the geographic locations, what I’ve told some of my students is to consider visiting a school that’s in, um, SIM.
A certain region or like similar types of schools. So like a small liberal arts in a rural area can count for your rural school experience, um, versus a [00:37:00] school that’s more in the city. So you can see what a city school is like or somewhere in a more suburban or college town area, just so you can get a feel with different types of campuses.
Feel like, cuz you may recognize that a city location like New York city may not give you that playing on the playing Frisbee on the quad sort of feel whereas a college town. Will, but a rural area may not have enough stuff going on or may just be the quietness that you need to study. So considering that also, um, moving on to the next question, um, does a in person visit count as demonstrated interest and then also can an invert, uh, not, oh my gosh.
A virtual visit, um, still be as meaningful or show as much demonstrated. Yeah. So I think the concept is demonstrated interest has changed over the years because schools have begun to understand that some students just don’t have the financial resources to go and to go and visit, uh, schools in person.
[00:38:00] And so it’s really disproportionate, um, who actually gets like. Those like demonstrated interest points. Um, and so I think a lot of schools are moving away from that to, you know, are you reaching out to the school? Are you asking questions? Um, I think it also comes through in, um, the way you write your essays and your answers to your, to your supplemental questions.
Demonstrated interest can also just be like, you’re really knowledgeable about the school in the way that you write. Like it’s not, when they ask you, why do you wanna come here? It’s not just like, oh, you have like a great program and like something you could recycle from school to school, but it’s really like, you know, I went to go visit this and like I saw the campus and I think it’s really great.
And like, I, um, met this in this professor, like obviously that she was a lot of demonstrated. You might not have had the opportunity to do that, but you could still say, I like looked up this professor online and like reached out to, to him or her and asked like, if I could do like what type of research they do, like you could do that type of demonstrated interest [00:39:00] in a way that doesn’t cost you all the money to actually do that, to actually go in and go in person.
And so I would say that. To be very certain for that specific school, you could ask the admissions officer, if there is a difference in the way that they calculate, like demonstrated interest, um, in person versus not. But what I would say generically across the country is that most schools have begun to realize that it disproportionately affects people who don’t have the means to go and visit schools.
And so there are other ways to make up for that. Like the ones that I just mention. Uh, so for students that are going on college visits, a lot of them are unsure what to ask, um, during, um, the tours or after the tours. So can you give some examples of what sort of things you should ask or things you should avoid asking during tours?
Sure. Things. So I think during tours be really respectful that you’re not the only person at the tour usually. And so don’t ask something so specific. Like I got this in this grade, in like this, in this person’s class and like this mixes with [00:40:00] like this and. Super specific questions about your unique situation, like tours are not the time to be asking about that.
I would say ask more questions about the process through which the school decides X or like how does the school, um, come up with new majors? Um, I’m interested in learning more about X program. What office provides more information about that? Like, think about, I would say I can’t give you the exact questions to ask.
It’s gonna seem disingenuous if like you don’t actually are cur if you’re not actually curious about that question, but what I would say is take some time to think about, okay, if all the schools that I wanted to apply to a hundred percent certain that they were all gonna say yes to me, they were gonna cost nothing.
I’m for sure gonna go in. There is no pressure on me doing anything. And I could just take my pick of which one I wanted to go. How would I know which one I want to go to? Like what questions really matter if there was no pressures, [00:41:00] if I was for sure, guaranteed to get into all of them and usually taking out those external layers of like all these barriers to getting into these schools will reveal the real questions that maybe you should be asking from the get, go about like what school is best for you.
And so I would say lean into that and think about what questions come up there. And again, as long as it’s not like super, super specific about like your specific grades or your specific family scenario or whatnot, like, um, you should ask those in the tour. Um, and when I say family scenario, I would say like, you know, if you’re asking very specifically about like, you know, um, I don’t know, like you’re, you can maybe talk about like for, uh, in or Y income bracket or like for parents under this, like, um, household income under this like, uh, marital status, whatever it is, like those kind of big generic questions are fine, but if it’s super in the weeds about like, so and so, like you’re naming specific people in your life, I would say none of those very specific detailed questions are appropriate for a.[00:42:00]
mm-hmm and, um, for those times when you can actually meet with an admissions officer or even a student, like one-on-one, what are some questions or things that you should bring up to in either of those situations?
sorry, I logged for like a second, but, um, so I think that if you do get a chance to do that, I then would ask more of your specific scenario. So I would ask like, yes, if you’re really, if you get a chance to talk with a professor or like someone in your department that you’re interested in, then definitely, um, make sure that you ask, like, you know, these are the courses that I took, like, what is like, how does it look like to translate my knowledge from like high school here to like college here.
Um, and like maybe more questions about the program and the offerings. What does research look like? Is there a study abroad associated with these questions with these classes? Um, what are some of like. The variations [00:43:00] in program of study within your department. Um, right. You can get more into the weeds of how a department’s different.
Um, you could also, when it comes to the admissions office, like maybe that’s where you ask the more specific questions about like your family status about, um, your, I don’t know, your specific like application process or like grades that you’re concerned about or any of those, like more like individual questions.
I think that’s where you would ask. Uh, going back to the next question. A few students are asking how to stand out in the application process, list more of a general questions, um, on like activity lists, essays. Uh, can you give any, um, advice on that? Sure. So I think that, um, A lot of students ask about standing out because they think that they have to have accomplished something like fantastic or out of this world to stand out.
Um, but I think that most commonly the way this, that you stand out is by talking very [00:44:00] genuinely and in depth about things that you’re passionate about, about things, obstacles that you overcame. Some of the, I think the essays are where you really stand out because no one can write an essay. Exactly. Like you, like your life experiences are so unique.
Even if there’s people who might fall in the same types of categories, of, of experiences, the way you process your experience is extremely like, there’s no one else who has done that. And so if you are creative about the way you tell that story, if you’re intentional about using creative language stylist, like istic choices, stylistic choices that really demonstrate your ability to story, tell, and your mastery of the, of like the English language.
Those are all ways to make a story that maybe a lot of other people are writing about, but it really stands out because you’re sharing your reflections on how that changed you as a person. Um, I would say obviously yes, list as many of your activities as you can in the college list, um, in that like 10 in those 10 slots.
Um, [00:45:00] but, um, I would say, think about the descriptions that you’re using for those slots. And don’t just write like, you know, I. Played basketball, like with my friends during the summers, because there was no like school I would write, I would work with your advisor to really beef of the language to think about how many hours did, were you someone who were, who was organizing those games?
That means you took initiative? Like how do you showcase some of the characteristics that you used to use to accomplish those activities and how do you work with the language to really showcase and highlight that. So that’s what I would say for making your activities stand out. Um, I would say also another way to stand out is through your teacher recommendations.
And the important note about that is that sometimes students decide to ask teachers who maybe they got an a in their class, but they don’t really know them or a, a teacher that just seems like, oh, well, my math and science teacher have to be my, my recommenders because I’m premed. [00:46:00] Whereas actually, no, like, yes, you should show maybe like one teacher who.
Is the science teacher related to like stem to show like some, some background knowledge and like some someone who can speak to your like stem or your science background, but then mix it with like maybe someone who maybe your Spanish teacher just really knew you as an individual person knew about, um, your character in and outside of the classroom.
Think about like those teachers who really can speak to your character. Um, and that’s another way that you could really. Definitely. And, um, we know that the admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike. And we really want you to, uh, consider working with CollegeAdvisor because you can really get that one-on-one support, um, from your own advisor who can help you with building your application, building your college list, figuring out what sort of needs and wants you have for certain schools and figuring out how to put together your application.
Best way to stand out in getting those essays edited, [00:47:00] revise, and, um, in the best form that they can be to really represent you. and having an advisor who knows you and, uh, gets to know you over the time of working with them, uh, can really help with making sure that your application is a as authentic and, um, representative as it can be.
Um, so, uh, just to let y’all know, uh, our team of over 300 former admissions offices and admissions X. Experts, um, are ready to help you and your family navigated all in one-on-one advising sessions and last year’s admission cycle. Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times the national rate and into Stanford at four point four times the national rate sign up for a preconsultation with us by registering for our free web platform at app.CollegeAdvisor.com their students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines, research schools, and more, all right on our website.
Explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines, research schools, as many of you are doing, uh, and more all right on our website. And you can keep track of what schools you have and, um, all of their information. So definitely check that out at app.CollegeAdvisor.com. Now back to the Q&A, uh, going on to the next question.
Um, a student is asking if you do an in person visit, but you aren’t able to speak with an admissions officer. Um, does this visit become a waste? No. And I think that comes back to the question about whether, um, like schools are really doing like a point system of like a demonstrated interest or demonstrated, um, yeah, like demonstrated interest.
Um, and as I mentioned before, a lot of schools are moving away from that or thinking into consideration, like people who reach out. And so what I would say is don’t feel like it was a waste. Well, it, it would’ve been a waste if all you wanted to do was meet with an admissions. And you didn’t, but if you’re coming into the school visit, as I’m gonna learn a lot about this school, I’m gonna really get a sense for why I wanna go here, what my life could look like here.
What are some of the questions that I have that could help [00:49:00] me to make a more informed choice about what school to apply to then it, it becomes a success, regardless of whether you admit you see an admissions officer or not. And so I would. Especially as you’re making the strategy of deciding which schools to visit, if your sole purpose is to see an admissions officer, I would say maybe that’s not a strong enough reason to go, but if you have multiple reasons and that’s one of them, like, then it just becomes like, okay, bummer.
Like, that’s one thing I like, would’ve been really helpful, but I got all these other helpful things out of it. Mm, uh, kind of going off of that from your personal experience, do you think if you had visited, um, Harvard or any of the other schools in the Northeast or anywhere else, it would’ve changed your decision?
Um, I, I’m not sure. I mean, I, I can only talk about like what hap I, I, I didn’t go through that experience. And so, I don’t know. Um, I ended up visiting Harvard after I got admitted. And so I definitely [00:50:00] wanted to make sure, like I felt at home there or like I could feel at home there. Um, so that was super helpful in deciding I was at the time choosing between Princeton and Harvard.
I had gotten into Princeton through QuestBridge, which is the program we talked about earlier. Um, and so I, I knew both of them were offering me the same financial aid package. I knew both were really fantastic schools. They were both reach schools. Um, both had really great programs, but it came down to the reason I knew I wanted to go to Harvard was because I really felt at home on the campus.
I met a lot of people at the activities fair that I was like, this is awesome. Like this is a club. I wanna be a part of. Um, I, uh, love the fact that it was a campus within like a very small city that was close to a big city. Um, and so I just fell in love with the school and it was super helpful for me to go and see that.
But I think it was really helpful and healthy for me to go after I got admitted for me specifically, because I would’ve been, I loved it [00:51:00] so much that I probably would’ve been pretty. Um, I would’ve been more tr if I had not gotten in after seeing it and like really building it up in my head. So I think it was really good to have gone once I had the confirmation of like, I could go here, like I have a, I have a spot here.
Um, so that, that if your mind kind of works like mine, maybe think about whether, what would be best for your mental health. Um, when you’re thinking about applying to schools and deciding on. Mm. Um, also, uh, you can still keep submitting questions. We have a few more minutes left on the webinar. Um, for students that are student athletes, we will be having a webinar in the future, um, with, um, With someone with more experience in the, um, realm of student athletes and the athletics departments at schools.
So please do keep an eye out for that. Um, also check out some of the links that we put in the chat, um, for student athletes, the very first one, it should be [00:52:00] related to, um, getting recruited and official visits for students who are recruited. Um, and there should be more information on that same. Uh, going on to next question.
Um, what you call it. Um,
okay. We are running low on questions. Is there any, um, other things that you feel were missed in the slides that you would like to, um, discuss while, uh, we wait for some more questions? Tolin. Uh,
okay. So, um,
okay. Uh, going on to the next question, um, what’s the best way for our high school athlete to become visible [00:53:00] or known by their target or reach schools? Um, so I would say, uh, usually high school coaches, um, school coaches can help with. Um, getting, uh, recruiters to come to the school and like either see a practice, see a game, you could submit your videos to coaches, um, directly through, if you go to the, the, the college it’s like athletics website, um, you could get more information about how to do that.
And if you don’t see it there, you can always email the department and ask, you know, like I’m interested. Like how can I get a recruiter to either come see me? Or how can I submit a video of myself playing my sport? so I would say that’s usually how, um, some schools also offer like, camps. Um, so I know there’s sometimes camps that you could apply to, or you could, um, yeah, that, that you could, I guess it’s not really applying, like you could qualify for, um, depending on like your rank or, um, How, like while you played in school or like [00:54:00] someone from your high school vouching for you, um, and you can attend some of these camps.
And that’s also another way that you could get to know the coaches better. You could get to know the team. Um, and so these are all one of many ways that you could get more visibility. um, for students who aren’t going, um, to the actual school and decide to go to either a virtual fair or go to a college fair at their school or in a local area, um, how can they make the most of that since they aren’t getting the visual of the campus?
Um, when talking to the admissions officer. Yeah. So I would say, I think that also comes back down to doing a lot of research ahead of time and making sure that you get a sense for, okay. What are the things that I would really want to know in order to kind of figure, if I wanna go to this school, put yourself again, in the scenario of you got admitted everywhere you have the money for everywhere, what are the questions that would really make it, or break it in one school or the other?
And. I think that would be really helpful. I think [00:55:00] honestly, I also looked through Google maps. Um, there were things that I was like, well, like, you know, they’re showing me all the pretty parts of campus. Like, what is this street I see here? Like, what are like these areas that I’m like, oh, I can’t see cuz it’s covered by trees.
And so like, I, I would put like the in person view in that like space and like look around. And so, um, there’s other ways that you can look into. Uh, going on to the next question. Um, kind of going off of that. Um, what is, um, I lost it. Oh my gosh. Sorry. Um, what is,
sorry? I am having a brain freeze. Um, you’re so good. Everyone asks so many good questions that now we, we don’t have anymore on the docket. Um, um, oh my gosh. Okay. Oh, oh yeah, there we go. Okay. How can, um, a student, um, reach out to another student or an alumni? [00:56:00] Um, and especially since like AOS, maybe trying to like Excel, like the school to them and just give a flowery image.
Um, how can students reach out to someone that would give them a more real or in depth, um, description of the. Yeah. So I would say, um, one way you could do that is you could look at the students or like, um, if you look at like people doing research in a lab at the school, like you can usually see undergrads who are part of that lab.
That you can maybe reach out to, I would use LinkedIn. Um, that’s you oftentimes use that in college and out like after college and it’s like a professional Facebook, um, where you can see a lot of people who went to a specific school. And so you could just send somebody a message, um, about like their experience.
Um, and so I would say LinkedIn does help to connect people with some alumni mm-hmm or you could also ask the admissions officer if they have a program where they have like students who talk to. High school students definitely, uh, [00:57:00] out going on to the next question, outside of starting to build your spreadsheet and research schools, is there anything else that a rising sophomore should be doing right now?
Um, I think that it’s really helpful for sophomores to start thinking about who, as you’re thinking about your course curriculum, think about how you’re gonna be able to balance applications. Um, with, especially if you wanna go visit schools, like with, like, if you were thinking of doing during the school year, um, like think about your curriculum and think about which classes can you start front loading now as a sophomore, um, that would allow you to have time to study for the S a T a C T if you’re, if you want to take it, um, to write your essays, to prepare for filling out the common app.
So I think, I think it’s a lot about like, what can you do right now that will make your life easier when you have the, those like stronger deadlines coming up your junior and senior year mm-hmm . Um, [00:58:00] going back to the next question, are you able to request an interview when you visit a school? Um, I would assume that’s like an interview with an admissions office.
Like, can you meet one on one with them when you’re visit? I see, I think that usually you have to preschedule that because a lot of times AOS are really busy. And so you wanna make sure that if you’re going and you’re expecting to talk to somebody that you have an appointment, um, they’re, I think. Again, put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer who has a lot of work.
And if people are just coming into their office expecting to talk to them, that would really, again, maybe you’re again, in your scenario, maybe it’s like you’re studying for a really hard exam, and then you get people just coming to your room, asking you questions. Um, and so think about it as just like a courtesy of making sure that you don’t just like knock on someone’s door when they’re not expecting you.
Um, and that you come with, um, yeah. The questions that you wanna, that you wanna get out of that conversation. Definitely. So that is the end of the [00:59:00] webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And again, remember, you can download the side from the link in the Headout tab. Thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our wonderful panelist for sharing all this information with us about maximizing your college visits.
Uh, here’s the rest of our June series, where we’ll be talking about identity, researching schools, building your college list and more, um, so you can check out these other, um, Webinars for more information on specific parts of the application, or to figure out what other schools you may be interested in for all those students who are researching schools currently.
Um, but thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight.