In this blog post, we ask four of our New York and Cambridge college admissions coaches a simple question. Based off of their expertise in coaching prospective applicants, four of our coaches weigh in on the discussion.
Do colleges consider your campus visit in their admissions decision?
"Long story short the answer is no. Visiting schools is meant to help the student decide and the parents to engage. When visiting, students can get a better sense of the campus vibe and through this experience, bond with their parents who most likely drove them there. Unfortunately, colleges don't have enough resources/admin staff memory space to remember everyone who has visited and asked an insightful question. However, I have seen some special cases. If a student is not quite as competitive as the other applicants, and he/she makes a personal visit to the college (not just take one of the generic tours but meet with the regional admissions officer or the director of admissions or an influential professor) then that could weigh in his/her favor. This however requires much more planning and foresight than what usually goes into a college visit road trip and there are no promises that it will work 100 percent. Overall, if you are a student, I would recommend visiting the school for your own sake rather for the school's."
"Colleges primarily track visitors just so they can send out mailings, not for admissions decisions, and that colleges who do weigh campus visits or 'interest' in their decisions usually only take this into account for borderline cases--it doesn't make or break an admission for a clearly qualified candidate."
"I wouldn't counsel a student to visit a school just to get an edge there, especially if the only metric tracking that visit was a sign-in sheet in the visitors center. If the student could meet with a professor or have an interview with an admissions counselor lined up, then yes, I'd offer that it's a valuable experience to be on campus -- beyond, of course, just being there to get a sense of things. As to whether or not the standard campus visit will make or break an application, I would agree with you in saying no -- I think that overall, counselors put very little stock in on-campus presence as a determining factor, unless a visit could signal some outsize kind of commitment (like you flew from India just to see this one school or something)."
What I can say here comes from when I was an alumni interviewer at Columbia (which, granted, is different from small schools like Swarthmore): They wanted us in interviews to gauge how much the student actually knows about the school, whether it be from a visit or from talking to alumni/current students. Basically they don't want to get the sense that people are blindly applying based on name.
I work with a lot of students from Poland who have no opportunity to do college visits, so I just reach out through my network to get them to talk to alumni or current students of their top choice schools, and in their "why school X" short responses we make sure to include that part of their motivation in applying to these schools comes from how excited they were after these conversations.
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