Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

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Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Be alert, Ask Questions, Take notes!

Information (info) sessions begin to all sound alike. Each campus will tout its outstanding faculty, great facilities, and wonderful opportunities etc. How can you see past this “sameness”? First you need to understand that the purpose of the Info session is to sell as many students as possible on applying to that school. So, you need to be awake and aware of what makes each visit different. Try not to judge the school on its’ food court alone or its new gym. Can you “see” yourself as a student on that campus? Also and this is tough- do not judge the school based on the personality of the tour guides alone, because the odds are that if you attend that school you will NEVER see that annoying Jock/nerd/diva again.

Leah Beasley
President/Founder Beasley College Consulting, LLC

10 Tips on Making the Most of Your College Visit

School is out and students are celebrating--but now is not the time to waste away the summer tanning at the pool! Summer is a great time to get a head start on researching colleges. What's the best way to research colleges?...VISITING! Here are ten ways to make sure that you're getting the most out of these all important visits: 1. Sit down with your parents and craft a list of colleges of interest. If you're not sure where to go, plan local visits and try to find a mix of different types of colleges (large, small, urban, rural, research, liberal arts, etc.). 2. Call or check online for tour times or to reserve a spot on the tour and information session (it's a good idea to reserve this at least two weeks in advance). 3. Call ahead to see if the college offers on-campus interviews and arrange one. I recommend interviewing during the summer since it is often difficult to return to campuses during the fall. 4. Attend a class and schedule to meet with a professor in your area of interest. 5. Don’t be shy! Stop and ask students what their favorite and least favorite thing is about their college. 6. Explore the areas of campus (and the surrounding area) where you think you will spend the most time. Visit the dining hall, library and student center. Listen to students talk. Do they look happy/sad/excited? 7. Take notes and pictures during your visit -- some colleges can begin to look and sound alike after several days of visiting, not to mention weeks later when you are constructing your final college list or writing essays about each college. 8. Write down the names and contact information of admissions officers, professors, and students that you've met. After your visit write them a thank you for talking to you. When application reading season comes--admissions officers are more likely to remember you because of this gesture. 9. Take time to explore alone without your parents. Have your parents explore and take notes as well. They may note something important that you didn’t see. Compare your notes. 10. At the end of your visit, stop and take stock of the day and ask yourself one simple question: DO I FEEL COMFORTABLE HERE? If the answer is YES, it might just be a great fit for you!

Charlotte Klaar
Director Klaar College Consulting LLC

Maximizing your campus visit

The only way to get the most out of a campus visit is to participate in all that the college is offering. That means that you attend the information session, go on the campus tour and, if possible, attend a class. When all this is done, stop into the student union or dining hall and just watch what is going on. Do the students look happy? Stressed? Engaged with each other? You might also stop students on campus and ask about whether they have enjoyed their experience at the college, what year they are in, and other student life questions. As you go through the tour, look at the bulletin boards in the halls. What is happening on campus and what are the issues being talked about? How comfortable do you, the student, feel among the others on campus? Remember that you spend only 15 hours a week in class and the rest of the time you have to live there. Parents should try to keep their opinions to themselves until the student has had a chance to think about the visit and decide if this is a place that would make him happy.

Dr. Christine Hand - Gonzales
Author of Interactive Resource eBook College Bound: Proven Ways to Plan and Prepare for Getting Into the College of Your Dreams (over 1200 live links), companion workbook - My College Bound Plan, College Planning Blog - and College Planning Consultant College Path LLC

Getting the Most Out of Campus Tours and Information Session

Planning to visit a college? Get started by collecting important information. Use the internet to "get to know" the college you are planning to visit. Review the admissions requirements, majors, and other areas of interest including financial aid and scholarship options, internship and study abroad opportunities. Learn about "what is happening" on campus. What activities do they have that interest you? Do they have honors programs? What about special dorms for certain majors? Once you have gathered your data, you will want to call the college to see when tours and information sessions are available. Be sure to sign in when you get there. Arrive on time and dress in casual but neat attire. Shake hands, introduce yourself, and remember to turn off your cell phone. You may want to forgo gum chewing as well. Come prepared with questions and be ready to jot down some notes. Take the tour and use this time to talk to your tour guide about their personal experience on campus. Stop in a dorm, the cafeteria, the library, and pick up a school newspaper. If you are interested in a particular major, see if you can attend a class (plan this ahead of time too!). Before you leave campus, be sure to pick up a business card of your representative. After your tour, take some time to think about what you liked and what you did not like about the institution. Write some notes to yourself and then follow up with a "thank you" to the college admissions representative for taking the time to share information.

Juliet Giglio
Montgomery Educational Consulting

Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

Hang out in the dining halls at meal time. Listen to the conversations around you. Try and imagine if you'd fit in at this college.

Melanie Rome
College Admissions Counselor Melanie Rome, College Admissions Counselor

Booklet To Take With You on Campus Visits This booklet, "A Pocket Guide to Choosing a College-Questions to Ask on Your College Visits" (which you can download), was written by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an organization that helps students make colleges choices based on certain criteria that is different from what other organizations or media use that attempt to rank colleges.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

3 Ways to Get More Out of College Visit

1. Ask specific questions. Don’t throw your guide softballs like, “So, what are your most popular majors?” Instead, ask questions that will produce unique responses. Try asking, “What are some of your unique on campus traditions?” or “What’s your favorite thing to eat in the dining hall?” or “What type of student wouldn’t fit in here?” 2. Visit a class. The percentage of tour time spent on academics is paltry. But, academics are the point. Just because the website doesn’t advertise it, you can sit in on a class at almost any college that you visit. Before you visit, read through course descriptions. If something sparks your interest, contact the professor yourself and set up a time to sit in on the class. Or, visit a “signature” required course like Reed College’s Humanities 110. 3. Spend time on campus off the tour route. At most colleges, the tour showcases the best a school has to offer in under an hour. But, taking time to walk around areas off the route may help you to learn about the nuances of an institution. If you are able to see the entire campus on tour, go “off route” by people watching in the student center for 15 or 20 minutes. Overhearing student conversations, viewing the bulletin board announcements, and entrenching yourself in the culture of a school will help reveal distinguishing characteristics of any institution.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Bring a notebook & an open mind

It is important to take notes on key points that will help you identify the elements of fit. When I take students on a Burton College Tour they all have a field guide with a campus profile and a blank assessment for each school they visit. Students should take notes during info sessions and take time to reflect on their campus tour as soon as the tour is over. I caution students to write their personal reflections before sharing with others. Reflections are key and will allow students to compare and contrast the schools they visit. The notes will also be useful if a supplemental application question asks why a student would like to attend. Remember that once you are on campus go beyond the tour and info session to truly connect on campus.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

An Open Mind

You might attend some tours with a lot of knowledge about the school beforehand and you might attend others without too much knowledge about the institution. Either way -- try to go with an open mind. Try not to let others' perceptions and opinions about a school cloud YOUR feelings about the place. You might be surprised at the things that appeal to you and the things that don't. And try not to be too stressed out as you visit colleges and attend informational sessions. You are just gathering information and facts -- not committing to four years!

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

The Squeeky Wheel and the Empty Barrel

I've taken thousands of campus tours and listened to countless information sessions over the last decade as part of my educational consulting practice resulting in my attaining the title Certified Educational Panner. There is nothing that excited me more than exploring a campus I have not seen! The critical question for me is how to draw back the curtain and see behind the glossy photos and snappy PowerPoint presentations. That said, before I offer my "Dos" please abide by my "Do Nots". Please do not be the "empty barrel" who makes the most noise at the info session. We know you are only speaking to either hear yourself speak or to attempt to make an impression (which is seldom positive in this venue.) instead, nurture that relationship with your admission counselor with follow up emails with thoughtful content and enthusiasm. No gimmics please. Also, avoid being the "squeaky wheel" on campus tours. You may think you are "getting the grease" but really if you attempt to monopolize the tour guide with private dialogue, the rest of the group suffers. I advise that for a truly efficacious campus visit, be uninhibited with the "unscripted" folks: leave your parents at arm's length and sit in the dining hall. Approach current students with questions such as "Are you happy you decided to come here?" "What would you change about your college is you were given a million dollars." "How easy/difficult is it to register for the classes you want?" "Is it cool to be smart here?" If you are willing to make yourself vulnerable and ask around, you will truly reap the benefits of time well spent.