It is near the time you’ll be off on your college visits. You’ve made the appointments with the admissions office and financial aid, you’ve set a time to talk with the professor you contacted in hopes of speaking to her regarding her new book and you’re eager and anxious to see all these colleges you’ve researched. You’ve downloaded campus maps for each school. Now what?
As you were making appointments, you no doubt noted the location, date and time for each interview. What you do now is collect all that information in an itinerary, which will look something like this:
College A—a large state university in a medium size city
- 8:00 a.m. Arrive on campus, check the campus map and find the admissions office.
- 9:30 a.m. Take official guided tour around campus. Refer to your map as you go along to get familiar with the campus.
- 10:30-11:00 a.m. Interview with Ms. Abrams, admission counselor. Obtain meal tickets for the dining hall.
- 11:15-11:45 a.m. Interview with Jeff Donaldson, financial aid counselor. Do this interview with your parents.
- 12:00 p.m. Eat lunch in cafeteria, Random Hall, 2nd floor.
- 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Walk around campus alone, talk with students, check out bookstore, library and the dorm that wasn’t on the tour.
- 3:00 p.m. Attend information session on applications and financial aid at admissions office meeting room.
- 4:30 p.m. Check in at hotel, eat dinner with folks, discuss college.
Next Day, College B—medium liberal arts college
Same appointments as first day, different times for appointments. Only things new are an interview with Professor Hobbs, Biology department and to take his class after the interview.Drive 100 miles to
College C—small private liberal arts college with excellent foreign language department
Appointments with admissions and financial aid, official tour, information session plus an interview with Professor Guident on whether to major in French or Political Science. Prof. Guident is the French professor.
Tips for Smoother Traveling
For each college, your itinerary will list all the times, office numbers and buildings that you have marked on the campus map and personnel to be interviewed. Remember to pick up business cards for each person you talked to in case you have questions later. The more detailed your itinerary, the better. That way, you won’t have to try to remember times or locations, you can simply read it off your itinerary.
If your family is driving from one city to another, try to get the most up-to-date information on road closings, potential detours and rush hours to avoid, if possible. Use MapQuest and any other software that can assist you in smoother traveling.
Try to arrange for an overnight dorm stay at one of the colleges on your list. Check with the admissions office, sometimes colleges have hotel rooms on campus for the parents to stay overnight as well. If not, have a nearby hotel lined up—don’t forget the student discount or coupons. Make a budget for the trip and stick to it as closely as possible.
If you and your parents are totally unfamiliar with the region (Midwesterners visiting the Boston area, for example), ask your admission counselor or Triple AAA for hints and tips on quickest routes to take or slower, sightseeing routes if you have the time.
It’s OK to line up two colleges to visit in one day, with about a half-day for each. You won’t have a lot of time for wandering around on your own, but you need to see all five colleges in just a few days. Enjoy yourself on the trip—while you’ll be nervous before your interview with the admissions counselor, try to relax and be yourself. Dress presentably, no shorts or flip flops. You want to make a good first impression.
Visiting colleges can be exhausting, especially when you’re visiting two a day. If you can, schedule some down time when you and your folks can simply relax and sightsee or watch the tube.
After each college visit, remember to fill out your post-visit checklist with the pros and cons of each college, admission requirements, deadlines and overall impressions of the place. Keep each checklist with the other college information, such as the brochure, course catalogue, business cards, etc. Create a separate folder for each college and organize the information the best you can. You will need it all later when it comes time to make decisions on whether to apply to college A or C.