Should I try and network with admissions officers or professors during a college visit?
If you're on a tour organized by a company, visiting a series of colleges/universities over a week or so, there may not be time allowed for you to meet privately with admissions officers, professors, or coaches during the time that you are on a given campus. Of course, this will depend on how the tour company organizes its schedules, but judging from the college tours that I have been on and led - both with other counselors and as a supervisor on student tours, I can say that time is very carefully allotted and private appointments would not fit into the schedule.
If you are organizing your own visit to a college/university, you can use your time in whatever way you feel is appropriate, though.
- You would do well to take advantage of the institutions' regular offerings for prospective students - sitting in on an information session and taking a campus tour. Specific times and days for these events can be found on the websites of the various schools.
- If the institution requires or recommends an interview, make an appointment with an admissions officer for that interview when preparing your visit agenda. Some schools do not offer interviews, however, because of the large number of applicants with which they are dealing, so attempting to arrange an interview with an admissions officer anyhow might be a source of frustration. Focus your attention elsewhere.
- If you are an outstanding athlete and are interested in the sports program of a school you will be visiting, make an appointment to speak with a coach in the sports department relevant to your sport. You may find it helpful to send information to the coach before you actually meet highlighting your past success in your chosen sport.
- If you are interested in studying in a particular area, it is often possible to make an appointment with a professor in that department to discuss further what the institution offers in that area, what your particular interests are, and how you feel that you would fit into that academic environment.
In all of the cases above, keep the following tips in mind:
- Make specific appointments ahead of time. Don't think that you will just be able to walk on campus or into a department and spontaneously have a productive meeting.
- Be on time for all of your appointments. Things do happen occasionally to interfere, but If something comes up which will cause you to be late or miss the appointment, contact the other party immediately to either cancel or postpone your meeting.
- Be prepared for any meetings you have scheduled. Don't waste the time of your interview partner by not knowing what you're talking about. Remember that you're not there just to chit-chat. Be ready to ask relevant questions and volunteer information about yourself. Be as familiar as possible with the school, with the sports program, or with the academic department you are investigating.
- It would be a nice gesture to send a short thank you note to the other party after your meeting expressing your appreciation for their having taken the time to see you and perhaps referring to some outstanding aspect of the interview. Keep it short and sweet!