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Top 12 Tips for Campus Visit Success

Thursday, February 13, 2020
What? Already? The campus tour season is here. As you check out colleges during break and beyond, be intentional and make the most of time invested on the road.  Solid planning makes for worthwhile (and memorable) on-the-ground college research.

Looking to get the most out of exploring colleges? Check out these top suggestions for campus visit success:


  1. Register ahead via the campus website for information sessions and tours. Some colleges receive many hundreds of visitors in a week, and spaces may fill up.  If you need to cancel a reservation, contact the school so a spot can open for another visitor.
  2. Sign in when you arrive to campus so there is a record of you having taken the time to visit. This will also ensure you a spot on the school mailing list.
  3. Allow yourselves plenty of time to arrive and, most of all, to park and find the Admission Office. Do not assume that parking and the Admission Office are close to one another. And don’t assume that a tour or information session will take place at the Admission building.
  4. Even though it may sound obvious, wear comfortable footwear and bring a snack or drink with you as touring can tax one’s energy. Keep up the blood sugar.
  5. Bring extra pairs of dry socks (seriously). Even if shoes get wet in the rain, you will be much more comfortable if you at least can pull on dry socks for the next tour.
  6. Capture several photos of campus and nearby town, maybe even with you in them. Photographic images evoke deeper memories. 
  7. If you do not have time for both tour and information session, prioritize the tour.
  8. Don’t be shy about stopping a couple of friendly-looking students and saying something like: “Hi, I’m visiting today and wanted to get some thoughts about what students here think of X College. So what year are you in and what are you studying here? What are a few favorite things for you about your school?”
  9. Check out food places; fitness center; Career Center; Student Success Services or "Disability” Office; library; etc. if these are not included on your tour.
  10. Peek at posted signs; notices — anything that tells you what is being promoted or talked about at that school.
  11. If financial assistance is part of your college process, ask if admission is “need blind” or “need aware.” This will tell you how much the school considers demonstrated financial need when evaluating applications. You could also ask what % of demonstrated need the college will meet. If the school meets 75% of your demonstrated need, that means that the rest will be up to you to obtain.
  12. If the school says they offer merit awards, ask which financial applications, special essays, if any, need to be completed to be eligible for merit aid.
  13. What is the 13th tip you would like to see here?  Submit your favorite tip to marla@achievecoach.com, and you may see your suggestion added here next month.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


The Role of Demonstrated Interest

Monday, January 02, 2017

During the college process, sometimes showing a little love can go a long way.

Colleges and universities care greatly about their yield rate, that is, the percentage of applicants who accept an offer of admission and join the freshman class. As a result, schools aim to welcome engaged applicants who appear predisposed to accept a potential offer of admission. Consider this: If you were throwing a party and had room for a limited number of guests, wouldn't it make good sense to invite those who would enthusiastically respond with, "Yes, I'll be there!" Would you invest time asking those who would likely put you off with, "Um, I''ll have to check…” or who have long seemed lukewarm about hanging out with you?

How schools gauge interest will depend on each institution's priorities. For super-selective schools, such as Ivies and the like, or public colleges that rely mostly on an applicant’s statistics, demonstrated enthusiasm on its own is not going to propel one very far. For many schools, however, demonstrating interest matters and simply starts with “showing up.”

Have you taken the time to contact the Admissions Office with questions to voice curiosity about the school? How about a campus tour? For colleges that value this expression of interest, visiting is an important demonstration of an applicant's intention to grasp more about the school and potentially enroll. If an applicant lives within a 3-4 hour drive, the college may expect the student to head on over for a look.

Not everyone, however, has the time and funds to trek out to distant college campuses. Costs for transportation, hotels, and meals add up quickly, and admissions offices understand this. If a campus visit is not realistic, there are other ways to reach out to a school to let them know that they are on your radar.

Try emailing or phoning the admissions office to request that pertinent information be forwarded to you – or ask where to locate it on the school website. Find out if college representatives will be attending college fairs close to where you live. Admissions reps commonly field student questions about majors and requirements; interviewing possibilities; high school visits; merit award potential. Because campus extracurricular life is central to a vibrant college experience, specific questions about activities; ways to become involved; or research prospects are also welcome questions for admissions representatives.

At the very least, simply find your spot on the school mailing list. If a college contacts you with information or inquires about what matters to you in your education, do respond and investigate further.

Taking the time to express sincere interest in a school and how it’s offerings fit your goals can end up supporting your best interest!

Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. She is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


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