We may live on the other side of the world from universities in the US and UK, but some students take the opportunity to go visit in the summer.
Visiting colleges can help you realize if it is the right place for you. You get a chance to connect with Admissions Officers, the mysterious beings who will be reading your applications. Additionally, your experiences can make for some interesting, personalized tidbits in the dreaded Why University essays.
For those venturing out on college trips, here are a few tips!
1) Sign up: Don’t show up unannounced, especially if the college only does tours by reservation. Go to their website and check out what times the Information Session and Campus Tours are. Sign up if you can to make sure you have a spot. Also, sign up for other opportunities if they offer them – sit in on a class, have lunch with a current student or maybe do an overnight visit.
2) Stalk them on Facebook: In this day and age, chances are that the colleges you visit will have an excellent website and a social media presence. Before you visit, read up about the school to get the full experience! Figure out the questions you might have, what you’re interested in. Moreover, you should be ready with questions to impress the tour-guide! Ask them about their experiences their first year -“What is your favorite general education requirement…” or more specific than that “I heard that the business school is adding an entrepreneurship lab, have you had any experience working with it?” Remember, YOU = STUDENT and not mom and dad. Mom and dad should take a back seat, this is your application process, own it.
3) Take Notes & Pictures: College 1 might stand out, but slowly, the differences between colleges 3 through 5 will blur together. Take notes and pictures to remind yourself! This will help later when questions arise. Don’t just note facts either. Saying that you were fascinated by the “14.3% population of international students” is not as impactful as “Rory, our tour guide’s story about Max Hall…” Names of the tour guide, admissions officer, campus buildings is what will set you apart. Pro Tip: Take notes in a notebook instead of on your phone. The info session leader can’t tell if you’re texting or writing notes when you’re on your phone. And no one likes to see an audience member texting away instead of noticing them.
4) Explore the Campus: You’re there! So explore. First, take the tour. That will help you figure out the campus, see the highlights and get to know a lot about the lay of the land. Then, keep time to explore the campus on your own. Have lunch in the dining hall, go check out the library and maybe even see the dorms. Understand how your life as a student would be.
5) Meet the experts: Current Students, Tour Guides and Admissions Officers are the experts on the University, each in their own way. Stop by the admissions office and introduce yourself to the Admissions Officers. If they have a regional admissions officer (which most colleges do), email them before you go to tell them you’re visiting and ask to stop by and say hello. Ask them to connect you to a current student perhaps that you can meet with during your visit. Collect their contact information and send a thank you email after!
Bonus Tip: For Seniors – Don’t Forget to Interview
Interviews are far and few in between for international students, who often don’t get to interact with admissions officers because they don’t always come to India. You’re visiting them, so don’t forget to interview! There are two ways to request an interview
a) Online – while signing up for an information session
b) By emailing them – reach out on the admissions email or contact us email to request an interview when you’re visiting campus. Even if they can’t offer it, the college will make a note you asked and that will be valued when you apply. And, as always, don’t forget to prepare!