It’s Time for Rising High School Seniors to Get on the Road! College Visits Summer 2021
by Kathy de Jong, Independent Educational Consultant
After over a year of closed college campuses, high school students are now able to visit many college campuses in the United States. However, it may not be the same experience as pre-pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about touring colleges this summer.
Many colleges are still not offering in-person admissions sessions or group tours.
For many colleges, they will permit visitors on campus, but you are basically on your own to explore the campus. Check with each college you intend to visit before making the trip. You may need to register in advance. Many colleges will have self-guided tour materials available online.
Visiting a college is considered “demonstrated interest”, so provide your name wherever you can.
So what is demonstrated interest? It’s a term used in college admissions to identify students that have engaged with a college prior to their application being submitted. Some, not all, colleges will keep track of where and when prospective applicants interact with the university’s admissions office. So, each time you open their email, sign up for a virtual admissions session or register to visit a campus, that is one more indication to admissions officers that you are truly interested in that college. Some colleges will take demonstrated interest into consideration when deciding which students to admit. Here’s an example from High Point University. They clearly track demonstrated interest and make it clear on their website that it is part of the admissions decision.
Admissions decisions are based on the following:
- A student’s academic performance and achievement
- The academic rigor of these classes and your school
- Scores achieved on either the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT)
- A student’s character and past performance
- A student’s demonstrated leadership
- The written essay on our application
- The Counselor Report Form
- Letter of Recommendation from teachers or counselors
- Demonstrated interest in attending High Point University
So if you are planning on visiting a campus take the time to register online or visit the admissions office if it is open. I recently visited William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. The admission office was not open, but they had “sign-in cards” available inside the first set of doors along with a campus map.
Get familiar with the college before you visit.
If a college offers a virtual admissions session, a campus housing video, etc., it’s suggested that you take advantage of those resources before visiting the college. You’ll be able to put the information you learned about the history, tradition, and unique aspects of the college into context when you visit. These resources may mention must-see sights on campus that you might otherwise have overlooked.
Many buildings may not be open to visitors.
Unfortunately, it is, what it is. Many buildings have card access only, so if you are not a student or faculty member, you’re not getting in.
Summer is not the best time to visit a campus, but if it’s your best option for getting on-campus, do it.
Now that we are in the middle of May, most students are done for the academic year, and campuses are, well, pretty sparsely populated. Prior to the pandemic, I took my daughter on a visit to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN in June. I’m not sure we saw five people in an hour – aside from the small convenience store on campus where we went to get some water. She was underwhelmed.
The problem with visiting in the summer is that it’s harder to get a feel for the vibe on campus when things are in high gear during the academic year. You may see vestiges of the prior school year such as newspapers, event notices, etc. that can give you an indication of the campus happenings.
Additionally, when you visit in the summer, it’s not a true representation of the climate the student can expect during the school year. Take Notre Dame for example. It was blazing hot in June. That is not what students can expect when they are on campus during the school year. In fact, it can be brutally cold during the winter.
The upside of visiting during the summer is that students can see the size and location of the campus and explore the surrounding area. You might be able to find a student that is more willing to spend a few minutes chatting about their experiences. If you do your homework in advance, you might be able to contact a faculty member in an area of study you are interested in pursuing. Again, they probably will have more time in the summer.
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