COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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How to maximize the value of your college campus tour
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/how-to-maximize-the-value-of-your-college-campus-tour-1069

Posted: 2017-06-07

by Maria Carla Chicuen

I embarked on my first college visit in the fall of my third year of high school, the weekend of Halloween, when I also witnessed my first snowfall. It was, in every possible way, a magical experience. And not just because I was visiting Harvard, a dream school that seemed unreachable at the time and which, a year later, would officially welcome me as a freshman.

During my two days in the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus I was fortunate to stay in the dorms with a student host, sit in classes, eat meals in the majestic Annenberg dining hall and catch a glimpse of the vibrant student life by attending the rehearsals of student dance groups and even one or two dorm parties. By the time I returned home I had not only acquired a good sense of what it took to become a competitive applicant to Harvard, but had also experience what it would feel like to live there. I had also met undergraduate students whose advice would prove immensely valuable throughout the college application process, and who offered the support and experience that would ease my transition to Harvard as well as my ability to take advantage of the many opportunities available at the university.  

Experiencing life on campus as much as possible is perhaps the most valuable aspect of a college visit. Many students and parents limit themselves to participating in an information session and official campus tour, thinking these are the only activities available to visitors. However, many universities offer ways to engage with the college community more deeply when classes are in session, such as meals with current students, tours of specific academic departments, class visits and even overnight stays at the dorms. Extended visits are also possible through “fly-in” programs, an official event to welcome distinguished prospective students, normally in their junior or senior years of high school. Fly-in programs are selective and students must submit an application to be considered.

RELATED: Making the most of the college visit

All these opportunities to engage with the university during a campus visit are usually advertised on the universities' admissions websites, and might be available to both individual and group visitors. However, it's key to plan the visit ahead of time, as slots tend to fill quickly.

Students who have already decided to apply to an institution can also take advantage of a campus visit to advance the application process. Many colleges, for example, offer on-campus interviews with admissions representatives or alumni. Even if official application interviews are unavailable, some admissions offices might be willing to welcome prospective students for informal visits, and answer their general questions. Students should bring their resume and keep the contact information of the admissions representatives they meet, so they can follow up with any additional questions throughout the rest of the application process.

Colleges by no means expect applicants to visit their campus, and students should not feel they have to, especially if they have limited resources for travel. Yet, if presented with the opportunity, it can be perhaps the single most important action to awaken their excitement about higher education.

RELATED: 4 tips on making the most of summertime college visits

I embarked on my first college visit in the fall of my third year of high school, the weekend of Halloween, when I also witnessed my first snowfall. It was, in every possible way, a magical experience. And not just because I was visiting Harvard, a dream school that seemed unreachable at the time and which, a year later, would officially welcome me as a freshman.

During my two days in the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus I was fortunate to stay in the dorms with a student host, sit in classes, eat meals in the majestic Annenberg dining hall and catch a glimpse of the vibrant student life by attending the rehearsals of student dance groups and even one or two dorm parties. By the time I returned home I had not only acquired a good sense of what it took to become a competitive applicant to Harvard, but had also experience what it would feel like to live there. I had also met undergraduate students whose advice would prove immensely valuable throughout the college application process, and who offered the support and experience that would ease my transition to Harvard as well as my ability to take advantage of the many opportunities available at the university.  

Experiencing life on campus as much as possible is perhaps the most valuable aspect of a college visit. Many students and parents limit themselves to participating in an information session and official campus tour, thinking these are the only activities available to visitors. However, many universities offer ways to engage with the college community more deeply when classes are in session, such as meals with current students, tours of specific academic departments, class visits and even overnight stays at the dorms. Extended visits are also possible through “fly-in” programs, an official event to welcome distinguished prospective students, normally in their junior or senior years of high school. Fly-in programs are selective and students must submit an application to be considered.

RELATED: Making the most of the college visit

All these opportunities to engage with the university during a campus visit are usually advertised on the universities' admissions websites, and might be available to both individual and group visitors. However, it's key to plan the visit ahead of time, as slots tend to fill quickly.

Students who have already decided to apply to an institution can also take advantage of a campus visit to advance the application process. Many colleges, for example, offer on-campus interviews with admissions representatives or alumni. Even if official application interviews are unavailable, some admissions offices might be willing to welcome prospective students for informal visits, and answer their general questions. Students should bring their resume and keep the contact information of the admissions representatives they meet, so they can follow up with any additional questions throughout the rest of the application process.

Colleges by no means expect applicants to visit their campus, and students should not feel they have to, especially if they have limited resources for travel. Yet, if presented with the opportunity, it can be perhaps the single most important action to awaken their excitement about higher education.

RELATED: 4 tips on making the most of summertime college visits

 

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