How to Plan Your College Visits (Part 2 - Traveling Efficiently)

Posted by Andrew Jungclaus on 7/13/15 11:00 AM

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We're excited too, Mr. Bean.

Now that you’ve realized how crucial the campus visit is (and if not, see our previous blog post) it’s time to get your plans together in order to make an efficient use of your time.  When working with college applicants in New York, this can be the most rewarding step – putting together an initial of cities and campuses and digging into some of the basic research.  Read below for a few tips on getting started with a plan for a weekend away on college campus visits.

Plan geographically

Take some time with the jottings you made in part one of this series and see if you can spot any similarities.  Do a few of the colleges you’re interested in center around a particular city?  Is there a particular curricular focus, size, or atmosphere that you’ve intuitively started to zero in on?  Group some of your initial choices together and try putting together a geographically targeted itinerary.  We can always help you with these, but the main goal here is for you not to waste time.  

So for example, if you know you want to focus your applications on elite liberal arts-style programs, a sample weekend in Philadelphia might look like this:  

  • Saturday AM – Swarthmore College, campus tour and information session
  • Saturday PM – Haverford College, campus tour and admissions officer interview (contact ahead)
  • Sunday mid-day – Princeton University, campus tour and open lecture

Or perhaps the tier of school you’ll be a good match for is more of a mystery to you, and instead there is some sort of cultural or religious dimension to college life that’s more important to you.  Maybe you went to a Catholic high school and want to look at colleges in the same tradition.  A weekend in the same city might look quite different:  

  • Friday PM – Neumann University (safety) sit in on discussion section and campus tour
  • Saturday – St. Joseph’s University (target) campus tour and information session
  • Sunday – LaSalle University (target) campus tour and informal interview
  • Monday – Villanova University (reach) campus tour and sit in on class

The point is that these itineraries can take a lot of different shapes and approaching them with some seriousness now will help you make the most of your time on the road.

Get in touch

Once you have a list together, it’s always best to get in touch with someone at the school rather than simply showing up on the day you’ve chosen.  Dig around the school’s website – they might recommend a general admissions email, a specific admissions officer who fields campus visit questions, or your school might know of a particular liaison to reach out to.  And beyond the official channels, get in touch with any friends you might have at the colleges you’re interested in.  Some schools have several different options for your visit beyond the basic campus tour, and if you choose an overnight visit, it’s always easiest to do that with someone you already know!  Be eager and polite in your correspondence, but don’t be pesky – feel empowered to ask about the options available for visits from prospective applicants.  

Phone a friend

After you’ve come up with your initial plans, check with your friends who are starting out on the same process.  If any of the campuses you’re interested in overlap, all the better.  Not only will your parents thank you (less driving!) but it will also be twice as fun and memorable for you.  Just remember, it’s important to do all of the initial planning on your own and without much influence from your peers.  This is your college experience you’re planning after all and it’s crucial for the process to be guided by your own opinions.  

So give these steps a try, and keep an eye out for our next installment where we’ll move from planning to action and what you need to know when you’re actually on campus.  

Looking for more tips on the college admissions process? Check out these posts written by our college consultants and coaches in NYC and Boston: Simplifying School Selection, What Should I Write My College Essay About?, and How Lists Can JumpStart the Personal Statement.

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Tags: college