Make the most of Spring Break College Trips
I know several of you are just itching for that much needed break coming up. If you are a junior, you could also be taking in a college tour or two. Quite frankly, I implore my sophomores to also consider taking two college tours during break: one to an urban city school, and the other to a contained campus in a rural or suburban town. I like most students to start to get a feel for schools. There are some good things to do on a tour, and so not so great things.
First off, do not use the information session as your end all, in terms of learning about the school. The information sessions are usually planned scripts or agendas. So often specific questions are not included, but do plan some specific question to see if you can get your question answered. Consider what you need to know about your ability to be admitted to the school you are visiting. Ask about the non-athletic SAT or ACT average, not the general average, which includes all students, often those who have been academic-indexed in: having this distortion often makes students and parents believe a school is a target, when in fact, it is a reach. There are many good options for good questions to ask, just Google “best questions to ask during a college tour or information session.” If you want help crafting questions specific to you, contact us! It’s what we are here for!
Second, the best person to ask some serious questions that you want to know about daily life is the tour guide. The tour guides are usually upperclassman. These people have lived and gone to classes for several years. Want to know about which schools are the most challenging in terms of work load, which dorms are the best to get to class in the morning, etc. This is the person to ask. Also, a good rule of thumb, do not judge the entire school by the tour guide!!! Sometimes the student leading the tour is nothing like you or is not like anyone you’d like to become or is no one you’d even consider eating a meal with, but that doesn’t mean the entire school is such. Teens can be a bit harsh with judgment right off the bat. So have an open mind. Be sure to ask what the most popular spots to eat breakfast on a weekend and which places serve the best meals on the campus. After you depart, if this is a school you really like, then go to the dorms suggested, and walk to a building you might have a class in, familiarize yourself with the daily routine that other students have while going to this school. Does this seem reasonable? I had a student years ago, who found the walk up a steep hill every morning too intimidating! I had a very long, long walk from parking to classes every day for 2 years, up many, many sets of stair. In nice weather it was an added workout, but during cold and rain, it was pure hell.
Third, go have a meal! Find those places, grab a bite to eat, and see the people around you. Now, bear in mind that many colleges will also have spring break as well. So the campus might be a bit sparse, but this could be a blessing, as you will get a table and be served in a rather appropriate amount of time. Often college hot spots are full to capacity during the school days. Enjoy the time you have in the location, look at what seems interesting, and make some notes-send a text to yourself with items of curiosity or questions you might have while you are walking around. Remember nothing is off limits.
Fourth, if you can, get the name of the person who leads your information session or your tour, and if possible, be bold and ask if they have a card. When you get home, send a thank you email, and ask any follow-up questions you might have. If you have a chance to have a one-on-one with anyone in the school, be sure to promptly thank him or her for the time and attention you were given.
Fifth, before you drive away or back to your hotel, put a list together quickly of pluses and minuses about the school upon first impression. If this is a school that seriously interests you, then you will have more than a few opportunities to follow up and learn more, clear up some mistaken impressions, if negative, and flesh out some new interests. Write as many notes as you can while the visit in fresh in your mind.
Lastly, be sure to stop by the campus bookstore to pick up a memento of your trip and take a few pictures of the school while you are touring. This is not just to capture a moment, which years later, you will remember vaguely, but to also have as an impression of your first encounter of what could be your home for four years. It is something worthy of notetaking and preserving. Enjoy!