My bags are packed, phone is charged, and itinerary is finalized. I’m hitting the road one last time for 2017. Over the last year I’ve taken trains, planes and automobiles to visit 34 colleges coast-to-coast (and yes 10 have been in those fly-over states). I visited some of these schools for the first time, while others I returned for an updated look. I visit schools on my own, with colleagues during conferences, and during counselor invitational events.
Why do I visit so many college campuses? The answer is simple. There is no better way to understand the campus culture than seeing a college campus in person. When I visit schools I follow my own advice; I attend the information session, take the official campus tour, speak with the admissions staff, and check out the nearby town or city as well.
If I’m lucky enough to be invited to a daylong counselor event, I have the privilege of being a guest of the college or university for the day. Invitational counselor events are similar to open houses for prospective students. The day is jammed with college-specific information sessions. I hear from student panels, chat with faulty members, and tour the facilities. Admissions always gives an overview on the application review process and describes the merit awards available to qualified students (Many of the most competitive colleges e.g. Ivies and NESCAC schools award little or no merit aid). Sometimes I am treated to short performances by musical and dance ensembles.
Visiting colleges is an important and exciting part of my job as a college counselor. It never gets old. Each school is unique and attracts students who take advantage of their specialized programs. During my visits I take lots of pictures and notes, just like I ask my students to do. And at the end of each visit, I think about what kind of student would be a good fit for the school: academically, socially and financially.
Thank you to all colleges and universities who opened their doors to my students and me in 2017. We appreciate your time, information and most of all your patience as we learn more about what makes you unique.
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