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How to get the most out of your college visits

I’ve talked about the benefits of college visits and whether you need to go on them or not. Today I want to talk about how to get the most out of them if you decide you need them.

Do Your Research

A lot of students schedule a campus tour and maybe an interview and then expect to learn everything about the school once they get there. This is a big mistake. You are missing out on really great opportunities to demonstrate the caliber of applicant you are. The first part of the research should be a review of the available information on the college. What majors do they have? What are they best known for? These should be easy questions for you to answer with some internet searching. You want to appear informed during your interactions with the admissions office.

To really put your application over the edge and make the visit as productive as possible, I recommend focusing on making at least two of the following connections prior to your visit.

Professors

Are you doing any research? Find a professor who does similar work. Alternatively if there’s a topic that’s really interesting to you, find a professor doing research in the field. If you have no idea, look at the professors in the major you’re most interested in and find something you like and would want to contribute to.

Email the professors and express your interests prior to your visit. I recommend contacting at least two professors. Tell them why you’re interested in their research, explain how you would like to contribute to their work if accepted to the school, and schedule a meeting with them during your campus visit. This does a number of things for you. You can mention it to your on-campus interviewer to show how interested you are and what you’ll bring to campus as a student. You are also creating sponsors for yourself that could put in a good word for you with the admissions office.

Extracurriculars

Are you a varsity athlete? Contact the coach for your sport. Are you super active in your school newspaper or a particular club/charity? Contact the leaders of the organization or its equivalent. Again, you want to express interest and explain how you will contribute to the organization as a student. Be sure to schedule meetings with them during your visit.

With a little bit of research and a few emails, your campus visits will be extremely productive and help you stand out as a preferred applicant.

Action Steps

  1. Do basic research on the school before you visit.
  2. Find professors who research something you’re interested in and contact them to schedule a meeting.
  3. Find organizations that you want to participate in and contact the leaders to schedule a meeting.
  4. Have a successful visit!

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