Do you remember seeing the signs for college visits outside your Guidance or College Adviser’s Office? As an Admissions Counselor, I travel quite frequently and do my best to coordinate a visit to local high schools while I’m in town for a college fair. This is a practice that most colleges and universities use to offer a face-to-face information session with students.
It can be difficult to find the time or the desire to meet with a visiting Admissions Representative during the course of your day, but I want to take the time here to outline the usefulness of a college visit and how to maximize the time. They are great resources for you to learn more about that specific institution and the process for applying. Some schools will even let you apply right there during your meeting! The best piece of advice I can provide is two-fold: plan your time and come prepared.
Plan your Time
If you are looking at a large number of schools, then you might not get the chance to visit all of them but still want to gather information. Ask your Guidance Counselor for the visitation schedule to see what schools are visiting that semester. Are the schools you’re interested in on that list? If not, is your Guidance Counselor willing to call the college or university and invite a representative to your high school? While I try to visit as many schools as possible, I am not able to visit every single high school in my travels. That said, I have received calls from a few high schools and have worked out a trip to visit and meet when I know students are interested in Grove City College . I recommend checking the list at least once a week as colleges continue to plan their travel and book high school visits.
If the schools you are considering will be visiting, then go ahead and sign up for the time. If you will be missing class, then make sure to talk with your teacher about what you will be missing and how you can get the notes and homework. Make sure you get a pass from your Guidance Counselor to miss class.
Make sure that you have done some background research before the meeting. This will allow you to get into deeper questions sooner. The visits only last approximately 20-40 minutes, and you want to get as much information as possible. Questions about where the college is located and whether they have a certain major can be easily answered by conducting a simple online search. Questions about the focus of a specific department and the strengths/weaknesses of the advising system take more time to answer and cannot necessarily be found online. Along those lines, make sure you actually have questions to ask. You can even write them down and take notes during your meeting! Take a look around online for some basic questions to get your brain thinking. CollegeBoard.com has a great document to act as a starting place. Use many of those questions but make sure to ask things that specifically interest you as well.
Sometimes, we are given time with a large group of high schools students during our visit so it might not be a one-on-one meeting. You might want to clarify with your Guidance Counselor which type of visit a college has scheduled to your school. If it is a group visit but you want to individually meet with the College Representative, then reach out to the Admissions Office for that school and see if you can set up a one-on-one meeting in addition to the group visit. You may even want to schedule an official admissions interview if necessary.
The moral of the story is be purposeful with the time you take to meet with College Representatives and make a point to use them as a resource. Remember, they are visiting because they want to meet with you and provide information about their school. Grab their business card so you can keep in touch in case you have further questions.