Happy summer everyone!
I hope your summer is going as well as mine. It has been pretty busy here at Pitzer, a large number of students have been visiting us on campus, we are working on some new projects for next year and, of course, half of the office is taking their vacations. In fact Angel is in Thailand right now. I am very jealous, but I am actually just getting ready for a vacation of my own! I am going to be spending some time in San Diego, on the beach with my whole extended family and then I am actually going to be going on a college road trip of my own.
My younger cousin is about to enter her senior year of high school, so we are going to take off to look at a few schools around California. Right now our plan is to take the 2nd week of August to travel down the coast and check out 1 to 2 schools a day.
You can call me a college nerd, but I am really excited for this trip. It has been 6 years since I was at this point in my college search process and now that I know what goes in to making these visits happen at Pitzer, I am curious to see how other schools look.
While I am talking about college visits, I thought I would give you a few pointers on what to do during your college visit.
Go on a tour- I know sometimes you are worn out and just want to do a self guided tour, but the tour guided by a current Pitzer student will give you an important perspective that you would loose if you tour on your own.
Go to the information session- These are very easy to overlook during your visit and sometimes can be less exciting than the tour, but they are still very helpful. Look at the tour as the student side of campus and these informational sessions as the application side. Often times colleges will go through their core values or mission statement during the information session. This should give you a good idea of what the school is looking for in an applicant. At Pitzer we talk about our core values during our information session and those are going to show up again on our supplemental essay.
Have lunch on us- If you are thinking about spending 4 years at a school, you should know what the food situation will be like. Also, make a point to eat lunch with a student. I know you will be embarrassed when your family member plops down and starts grilling a student while they are eating, but this can give you a truly uncensored view of the school because that student probably isn’t connected to the Admission Office.
Talk to students-Whether it is in the dining hall or on the mounds make sure you talk to someone random and learn something new about the school.
Question everything- Now I know that I am an amazing Admission Counselor who addresses a ton of important points during my information sessions, but it is impossible for me to cover everything, that is why you need to ask questions. Whether it is to the Tour Guide or the Admission Staff make sure you ask at least a few questions on every campus. Yes, you should prepare these in advance and NO, your parents shouldn’t be asking all of them for you.
Know why you are asking a question- More important than just asking a question, is to know why you are asking the question. Whenever you ask a question, be prepared to answer “Why is that important/relevant to you?” Everyday parents and students ask me questions about endowments and statistical data that really do not play a factor in their college selection process. So make sure when you are asking questions that the answers will help your college search.
Take everything with a grain of salt-College visits are very subjective, so know that what you see during your 2 hours on campus might not be an accurate representation of what 4 years on that campus will be like. This works both ways, you could have a great visit to a school that is not a strong match for you or you could have a terrible visit to a school that is really a great match for you. Take your time to observe the campus, but still keep doing research after you leave.
Write everything down-My last piece of advice is to write down your impression of the school right after your visit. I know this sounds unnecessary, but come April when you go to make your final decision your memory probably won’t be as accurate as your notes.
I hope this introduction to a campus visit is helpful, and I may be making some additions to it once I get back from my campus tours. Best of luck on your school visits and if you happen to run into me on the road, I hope to get a chance to meet you. [This goes for any Admission folk as well. :) ]