Useful Information and Tips

10 Tips for College Visits*

You can read college catalogues, articles and the many of the available guides and other resources on the over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States.  But a campus visit of at least one-half day is still the best way to evaluate whether a college is right for you.

When you do visit a campus, especially a college to which you are seriously considering and attending, here are some brief suggestions for your visit.

1. Learn about the college before you visit from its materials and website.

2. Think about the environment of the campus.  Is it the right size? Is it in or near a city with which you feel comfortable or isolated?  Is it urban, suburban or rural?

3. Visit the Admissions Office and participate in the information sessions.  Ask questions about the academics and the student body profile such as what type of person fits in best, is most successful and is most comfortable at the school.

4. Go on the student led campus tour.  Ask questions about campus life.

5. Make sure you check out the dorms or, better yet, arrange to stay overnight with a student in a dorm.  Can you picture yourself living there?

6. If possible, try to meet with professors in the subjects that interest you and with coaches in your sports.

7. Attend a class and inspect the library, including on-campus technology.

8. Investigate the non-academic campus life such as the athletic facilities, theater, and student center.  Read the notices posted on the bulletin boards to see if you can envision yourself joining or participating.

9. Eat a meal at the school and watch the student interaction.  If possible, talk to the students about their feelings about the school.

10. Make a record of your impressions of the college immediately after your visit.  You may visit many schools and after awhile your memory may fade or the colleges’ distinctions blur.

*Explore the Independent Educational Consultants Association website for more details on its “10 Tips for College Visits.”

What are Colleges Looking for in High School Applicants?*

A recent IECA nationwide survey found the following factors important to admissions officers:

1. A rigorous high school curriculum that challenged the student, including AP and IB classes, if available.

2. Grades that reflect a strong effort and an upward trend with slightly lower grades in a more rigorous program preferred to all A’s in less challenging coursework.

3. Solid scores on standardized SAT or ACT tests consistent with the high school performance record.

4. Well-written essays providing insight into the applicant’s unique personality, values, and goals.  The essay should be thoughtful and highly personal, demonstrating careful and well-constructed writing skills.

5. Passionate involvement in a few school or extracurricular activities. Commitment and depth of involvement are valued more favorably over sheer numbers of activities with minimal participation.

6. Demonstrated leadership and initiative in extracurricular activities evidencing preparation to lead clubs and activities is highly desirable.

7. Personal characteristics and qualities that will contribute to a diverse and interesting student body.  This may involve geographic, cultural, ethic, economic and politically diversity.

8. Intellectual curiosity through proven reading, leisure pursuits and similar activities.

9. Enthusiasm for the college by attendance at campus visits, interviews, local and on-campus information sessions, and interest toward attending the college if accepted.

10. Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors that show integrity, special skills, positive character traits and an interest in learning.

11. Special talents that contribute to on-campus college student life. Colleges want to know what you will bring to the school as well as what you will take away from your college experience.

12. Out of school experiences including work, community service, religious groups showing passionate involvement is meaningful to the admissions officers, while casual memberships carry no weight.

*Explore the Independent Educational Consultants Association website for more details on its “What are Colleges Looking for in High School Applicants.”