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Making the most of your college visit

By Staff | Jun 14, 2018

Showing a “demonstrated interest” in a college can make a difference in your application process to many colleges. Aside from grades and test scores, colleges look at many other factors while making holistic reviews of student applications. Demonstrated interest is one of them.

Visiting a school lets them know that you are serious about your application, and it will set you apart from the students who may apply just because it is so easy to do so now with the Common and Coalition Applications.

Students who visit schools are more likely to accept an offer of acceptance than a student who does not, and in the end, accepting great students is what admissions departments are all about!

Seeing what a school really looks and feels like gives you a strong advantage in making your own decisions about choosing a balanced list of schools to which you will want to apply and ultimately attend.

With summer here, many of you will be heading to the Mainland to visit family and friends. If you are a rising junior or senior in high school, it is a great time to visit colleges that you think you might want to attend. It can be expensive to make these trips, so it is key to make the most of the visit.

1) Make sure you sign up for an official tour and information session, and CHECK IN. It is fine to take an informal tour with a friend or family member, and you may get more of the real story about the school that way, but it does not help in showing demonstrated interest if the admissions office does not know you were there.

2) Because you are coming from a long distance, try to plan as many visits as you can in any given geographical region, but know your limits. Don’t try to visit more than two schools in a day. You want to make sure that you are giving each school the attention it deserves and not overload yourself in the process. It is important to plot out your distances in advance and be realistic about what you can do in a day.

3) Try to make an appointment with the admissions counselor for Hawaii. These are usually the folks who are reading your application, and they are often eager to put a face to a name on an application. Have a few questions for them – maybe something specific about your particular academic interest or a program that is unique to the college.

4) If you have time, and classes are offered in the summer, sit in on a class and get a feel for the teaching in your area of interest. You may need to make an arrangement for this through your admissions counselor.

5) Eat in the cafeteria! Food choices at schools can be dramatically different. If you have special eating requirements, make sure that your needs are able to be accommodated. Beyond the food, the cafeteria is a good place to people watch. Look around while you are eating; how are students interacting with each other? Do you feel like you will fit in comfortably?

6) What is the surrounding area like? Is it in a big city? Out in the country? Is it in a “College Town?” How much does any of this matter to you?

7) Check out the dorms and housing options both on and off campus. Most tours will include a look at a dorm. Ask if the dorm you are seeing is typical of freshman housing. How many students to a room? Is housing guaranteed for freshmen? Is it guaranteed for other years, and if not, what is the typical living situation off-campus? What percent of students live in Greek houses and other fraternal organizations?

8) And finally, think about how far away the school is and how much of an effort it took to get there. Sometimes, students don’t really have a sense of what is required both in time and money to physically get to college. Coming from Maui, your closest out-of-state options are almost 2,400 miles away. That can seem sort of abstract until you get on a plane to get there. Aside from the West Coast, most schools are going to require two or more flights to get there; make sure that feels okay with you.

After you go to a couple of schools, you will start to feel that the tours are all pretty much the same: an enthusiastic student walking backwards, telling you all the great things about their school. Keep your eyes open and be realistic about what is being said. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Make the most of your visits and carefully weigh the options when choosing your list of schools.

Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website, thecollegeauntie.com, for more information or to make an appointment.