Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting savvy

This week the Office of Admission is quiet. Not because there’s no work to do, but because we’re on the road visiting you! Our counselors visited schools and met students in Atlanta, Tennessee, the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Boston, and Southern California – and we’re just getting started! Meeting a representative from Pitzer at your high school is a great opportunity to learn more about Pitzer, ask specific questions about the school, as well as gain insights into the college search and application process in general. If you can’t meet with one of us in person, remember that we have phone interviews available, and someone is always in our office to answer your questions or find someone who can.
But what kinds of questions should you be asking? How do you make the most of your opportunity to speak directly with an admission counselor? How do you know that you’ve found the right group of schools to apply to? The questions go on.
No matter how far along you may be in your college search and application process, you have no doubt been exposed to the glut of information designed to “assist” you during these often stressful months. Whole libraries have been devoted to college admissions, selections, applications, interviews, essays, and rankings. Entire graduate-level programs exist to train the professionals that you’ll meet along your way (also, ostensibly, to assist you). Not to mention the vast sea of college-related articles and – ahem – blogs that are just a search away on the internet. Wikipedia even has an article on university and college admissions (containing, among other things, information on the process in more than thirty other countries). A USA Today article this week titled, “To friend or not to friend?” comments on the pitfalls of using Facebook and other social networking tools to enhance your relationship with a particular institution or counselor. In short, there’s a lot of information coming at you.
So with all this information about the transition to college, why are there still so many questions? How do you become what I call a savvy consumer of college knowledge?
One way, if you know that you’re going to talk to a college representative, is to prepare some questions in advance so that you can make the most of your time together. You might even have some general questions prepared that you can ask of every college that visits, and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions! We’re on the road looking for you, so feel confident seeking answers.
When you’re presented with promotional materials from a college (picture that stack of brochures you brought home from the college fair), pay attention to the “buzzwords” that colleges use to describe themselves, and then do your own investigation. If a college talks a lot about “interdisciplinary education,” go through their online course catalog and read some course descriptions. Do they seem interdisciplinary to you? When it comes to advertising, colleges are no different from private companies, so developing a critical eye will help you become a more savvy consumer of college knowledge.
Another thing you can do to get savvy is to read some of the literature that college admission counselors read. The National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC) is the professional organization of our business. At their website (NACACnet.org) you can become a student member and gain access to loads of insider information. Find out how college admission professionals talk to each other. Find out what issues are on the minds of the people reading your application. Sign up for the NACAC newsletter (Steps to College) under the “Publications and Resources) tab from the NACAC homepage.
The Pitzer College Admission staff is here to help you. You can find out which counselor is primarily responsible for your region on our website. Find us, contact us, ask us questions! Being proactive should be your goal during the college search and application process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there is still plenty of time. Have fun meeting counselors and investigating colleges!

1 comment:

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