Sherri Graf / Imagine College Coaching / www.imaginecollegecoaching.com
I love going on College visits! It is truly one of the greatest parts of my job. I was on University of Texas Campus this week, doing some filming and I took a shot of this beautiful sunset. It is a beautiful campus with amazing students. It is also where I met my husband 25 years ago, so I have a bit of fondness for UT in general. Often, I get to accompany students on visits as well. One of my favorite students ( truth is, they are ALL my favorite ) is going to visit Duke this week.
Here are my recommendations for your College Visits.....
1. Make it Official! - Making sure to take the time to reach out and schedule an "official" visit can work in your favor for several reasons. First, you will need proof that you were on campus if you want to get an "excused" absence from high school. Second, if you do desire to attend this particular school, they will check to see if you were serious enough to take the time for an official visit.
2. Take the Lead - It is important that you begin to initiate correspondence with the College of your choice. It is time for YOU, not your parents to take the lead. Most schools have an online sign up for campus tours and "preview" days. I encourage you to visit on both a Preview or Premiere day in addition to a day where you can linger longer and not be a part of a large group. Both have advantages and if you are serious about attending, you will benefit by visiting on a couple of occasions. If your parents are with you for the visit, make sure that you are the one doing the talking, they are there for support. Remember, they won't be with you in college, so this is the time for YOU to start leading.
3. Do your Research - Take the time to know what the school is all about. Read the mission statement, research the president and be able to ask intelligent questions. I also encourage you to reach out to professors in the departments of interest and ask if you can sit in on a class. Professors love the subjects that they teach. They don't get frustrated when you show interest, in fact, they are eager to talk to you about the subject they love.
4. Get Up, Dress Up, Show Up. - Make sure you are on time and have put some effort into being prepared with pen and paper, and your appearance neat and presentable. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. I'm not suggesting you get "dressed up, " but rather, you just put in some effort.
5. Ask questions - This is your chance. There are no stupid questions. The tour guides are often current students and can provide a unique and valuable perspective that you won't get from professors or admissions counselors.
6 Take Notes - When you are introduced to people, remember their names and refer to them by name later in the conversation. This makes an impact. When listening to a speaker, take notes on the points that were helpful to you. Be sure to remember the names of the speaker and the topics of discussion.
7. Thank You Notes- This is where you get the chance to stand apart. If you really want to make a statement, send handwritten thank you notes to the people you met, thanking them for taking the time to visit with you. An email is appropriate as well, but follow up is critical! I can't stress enough the importance of this if you want to be remembered.
8. Take time to tour the city and surrounding neighborhoods - You aren't only choosing a school, but a community. Explore it and see if you feel "at home."
9. The Feel - Time and time again, students tell me "It just felt right!" Some instantly know, it takes time for others, but ultimately, it has to "feel" right to you! It is doesn't feel right, it's not right! Don't compromise, just keep looking.
10. Lastly, don't rush it! Take time to linger and enjoy this day....it won't come again.