Tagged: college visits

Websites for College Detectives

The preoccupation of juniors outside of school, is developing their college application list.  For most families there is a discouraging overabundance of facts, figures, brochures, even recruitment phone calls from current students. The  information can be overwhelming not to mention the opinions of relatives and friends.

Here are some websites where you can find useful information without scouring the cyber universe.

Search for Colleges        https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org

You will find lists of colleges by location, major, selectivity, cost and more.  Easy to use and search can be saved.

Tour the Campus in your PJs       https://campustours.com

Lots of good info here starting with the number of students, admission stats, type of college and other details.  Virtual tours, maps of campus so you can find the admissions office if you go in person, videos and unscripted interviews make this a top resource.

Can I Get In?        https://collegeraptor.com

Not only does College Raptor generate lists based on student profiles and performance but they also estimate your chances of admission.  There are many factors that enter into holistic admission reviews; Raptor looks at academic background only.  The prediction is useful only in helping a student balance the college application list.  Too many colleges in the Reach category may reduce chances of admission to any of the choices.  Too many colleges in the Likely Admit range may send a student to a college without enough challenge.

A solid college list has options in the Likely admit, Target and Reach categories.  All colleges will be ones that the student will be happy to attend if admitted.

Listmania             https;//diycollegerankings.com

Looking for colleges that superscore the SAT?  Meet at least 50% of need?  Have a Kosher kitchen?  Start here!   Most of the lists are free. Skip the lists that ask for payment; if you subscribe to the newsletter you may get that information anyway.  Check the blog, too.


Whether  you are working on your preliminary list, choosing colleges to visit or finalizing the ones you will apply to, I can help.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.








5 Questions For Your College Tour Guide

When you are on tour with a student ambassador there is an opportunity to get helpful information from a gal or guy who is knowledgeable and primed to communicate.  What can you ask that will lend meaningful data?

  1. How many hours a week do you typically study?   When and where do students hit the books?    From this interaction you will learn the rigor of the classes and the amount of prep time required.   The guide should also be able to give you a clue about studying vs drinking or socializing on the weekends.
  2. What did you do last weekend?  Do most students stay on campus on weekends?  What are some typical weekend activities?
  3. How much time do you spend with your professors outside of class?  In what settings?  What do you do or talk about?   Answers to questions like these are useful for determining the accessibility of the faculty.  Having relationships with professors is important for feeling like a member of the academic community and for academic success.  On some campuses there are student/faculty flag football games or faculty open their homes to students.
  4. What groups hold the most social events?  Are they open to all students or only to members?  What is there to do for non-drinking students?  Ask these questions to see how important Greeks, jocks, community service and other organizations are.
  5. What are the options for buying books or securing course materials?  Are readings posted on Moodle or Blackboard?   You probably want to spend the least  amount possible on books, so take this opportunity to find out what the choices are.

Before you begin touring colleges, make a list of questions that you can use to compare them.  You might find out about professors by asking the tour guide’s favorite or who the best profs are in the English department.  To learn about courses ask questions about the most quirky course on campus or the most difficult ones.

Its important to use questions and answers from others to spark more ideas so pay attention to the entire conversation during your walk.  Creating a profile of each college is up to you so make the best use of your access to current students to get the information you need.

For a free guide to comparing colleges, send an email to stephanie@accssguidance.com.


5 More People To Talk To On College Visits

These suggestions come from Scott Anderson, Contributing Senior Director for Access and Education at Common Application.

Reference Librarians:     Who knows more about assignments that professors make
than the librarian who helps students find materials and fulfill the requirements.  Helping students gives librarians insight into the academic life of the college and the level of preparation the students bring.

Dining Hall Staff:  If you want to know how students feel about the food, this is the person to ask.  If you have a meal in the car, its only one meal.  Ask the staff about other dining options, and the value of the various meal plans.

A Financial Aid Counselor:  When you register for a tour and info session, make time for a visit to the Financial Aid Office.  One of the professionals will be happy to explain the process of putting together a financial aid package and the options to fund a college educations that families have.

Student Affairs Officers:  Student affairs is comprised of many initiatives and services available on campus.  Study abroad, Greek life, service learning, interest groups and organizations, campus ministry are a few you’ll find on most campuses.  Frequently the offices are in the same building as the student center or main dining facility.  Stop by and meet the students and professionals working there.

Campus Police Officers: Campus police see what goes on 24/7 and understand how the university handles various situations.  Whether your concerns are specific or general, campus security is the place to get the answer.

I have tips and suggestions for successful college visits as well as templates for tracking the information you will want to compare among all of your colleges.   Contact me at Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679 so we can get started!


Your First College Overnight

Sometime during your junior year of high school or in the early fall of senior year, reach out to the admission office of one or more of the colleges you are applying to.  Ask to be matched with a student with  whom you can spend a night.

Usually, the host will be a member of the admissions ambassadors, AKA, tour guides.  You will spend Friday evening meeting students and doing what your host typically does on Friday night minus the drinking.

Sleeping arrangements are typically space for your sleeping bag on the dorm room floor or on a bed if a room mate has gone home for the weekend.

You can extend and enhance your visit by getting permission to attend one or more classes on Friday.  If you have a major in mind, make an appointment to meet with one of the professors or the department chair.

Bonus Info: take time to have a chat with the department secretary.  She or he will be a valuable resource when you become a student.  Your interest and kindness will be remembered.

Make it a point to find out where students get their text books.  Some books will be available on Amazon or another web book seller.  You may be able to rent-pay a fee and return at the end of the course.  If you must buy books from the bookstore, check out prices so that you have a good idea of how much to budget.  Some majors require supplies beyond texts and you will want to also find out how much to budget for those.  The bookstore can give you those figures.

There are good places to learn what students on this campus care about.  Read the student newspaper and listen to the radio station if there is one.  Take a look at fliers on bulletin boards and beside professors doors.  Intentionally overhear conversations among students as they cross campus or eat dinner.

After your visit send than you emails to your admissions contact, host, professors and department secretary.  mention something specific that you learned from each one.  If you’ve kept a journal, mark the page as one to compare to other college notes before you make your final choice.

Lets talk about the many ways you can get to know the colleges on yourlist!stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

Campus Visit Planning

One question I’m often asked is why bother to visit colleges until you know where a student has been accepted.  I always recommend serious visits starting by 10th grade.  Early investigation lets you eliminate specific colleges or types of colleges and concentrate on ones you prefer.

UC San Diego
UC San Diego

Keep an open mind because often the college most favored is one that wasn’t on the radar originally.  Visiting is an opportunity to get to know the college and its admissions staff which is a plus if you decide to apply.

When our president makes a trip a contingent of planners scope out the destination and think through every possible scenario. If you’re planning to visit colleges you might not have an entourage to manage the details but you should put in the time to do research.

Learn as much as you can about the college from their website and others that offer information or reviews. Keep a list of the places you want to see including classroom buildings, especially those where classes in your major are held.

Make an appointment for an information session and tour. This gets your name into the college’s tracking system so that if you apply you will not be an unknown quantity. Choose to go when there are students present so that you will have a feel for the campus culture.

Prepare some questions for the admission representative conducting the info session. Because you’ve done your homework you will be able to ask for details that can’t be found on the website. A good question is about financial aid: “Do you meet full need?” followed by ” Do you include loans in your aid packages?” The answers will tell you how competitive their aid packages are likely to be and if there will be loans as part of the package. Very few colleges have a no-loan policy and many of those have some restrictions.

Good questions for the tour guide are about his experience on campus. Weekend fun? What is the most unusual class she’s taken? Who is his favorite professor? Don’t ask about other colleges applied to: its rude! Don’t ask what he would change: guides have a script and will either answer about food or parking.

Schedule time to eat in a cafeteria. Do you see professors as well as students? Ask to sit fruit-cafeteria
with students and talk to them about their experiences on campus.

After your day, make notes on all you’ve seen and learned. A template is helpful so that you record the same information about each college.

There are companies that will help you plan and execute your college visits. Go See Campus can help you with the schedule and appointments. Campus Sherpa is an on-campus service that provides a private guide for 1-4 hours. Campus Sherpa isn’t on all campuses and can be pricey but you do get an insiders view of the school.

Colleges welcome visits from potential applicants.  For more visit planning help call or text Stephanie@ 610-212-6679; stephanie@accessguidance.com



Demonstrated Interest, AKA, Showing Colleges Some Love


Carleton College
Carleton College

If you want colleges to love you, you have to show them that you love them, too.

One of the dimensions that admissions offices use to choose among equally qualified applicants is to see if there was prior contact with the college, what kind of contact and how often contact was made.

There is no reason to be a “Stealth” applicant.  Demonstrating your commitment to a college is part of the application process that requires your time and attention.  Nurture your college network to give yourself the best chance of getting a welcome letter from the colleges you  most want to attend.

Access College and Career Consultants helps students find colleges with the best academic, social and financial fit for each student.  610-212-6679; stephanie@accessguidance.com

5 Places To Get Insider Information On Your College Visits

Campus Walk
Campus Walk

Everyone already knows that signing in at the Admissions Office is the most important task when you visit a college. Everyone will take the tour and sit through the information session. Is this enough to decide if you want to spend four years here?

Tour guides are hand picked and thoroughly trained. They are all supposed to say the same things, convey identical information that the Admissions Office wants prospective students to know. How can you get a more personal view of a college? Follow me!

Go back to the classroom buildings you rushed through. You will find bulletin boards strategically placed along the corridors. What is posted there? Professors looking for research assistants. Recent articles or photos by students or faculty. Competitions and contests that yield fame and some money may be tacked up alongside trips to interesting places hosted by the department. Bulletin boards can give a sense of how the department operates and what goes on outside of class.

While you’re in the building, walk along the professors offices. Many will describe research, travel, their softball team or put up pictures from their personal lives. Yes, they are real people with lives beyond teaching. Knowing something about your professors makes it easier to talk to them when you need advice or help. Store these tidbits to use as icebreakers.

If you’re lucky, you may find a professor in her office. Use this opportunity to ask about the department, courses, life on campus, or anything else you’re dying to know. The personal connection can open doors now and later on.

Locations two and three are the campus newspaper and radio station. Reading and listening will clue you in to the things that students at this college care about. The paper covers most sporting and recreational events; judge their relative importance by the length of the articles. Does the soccer team or the debate team have more real estate? If there is lots of Greek news, frats and sororities are probably important organizations. You’ll find community service projects, social justice initiatives and more. On the radio station and on some campuses there is a TV station, too, check out the programming. See how many student hosted shows are broadcast and their content. Drop by the studio to find out how you can have your own show.

Last on campus and probably most important, is the cafeteria or other food-oriented space. Grab a tray and ask if you can sit with a group of students. Introduce yourself and ask about their interests. What do the like? Who are the best professors? What is the quirkiest class? Do they have any advice?

Finally, before you leave, walk or drive the outskirts of campus. Look for places where can you find Thai food, get a hair cut, or access public transportation.

There you have it: five places to get an insider’s view of any college. To learn about professors and departments prowl classroom and office halls where you will take classes; read bulletin boards and talk to professors. What goes on outside of class is covered by the paper and the radio station. The real inside scoop comes from the students you will meet playing Frisbee on the quad or in the caf. If you like it so far and are comfortable with the neighborhood, you’ve probably found one college to put on your list.

A Tip for college Fairs or College Visits

Last week I was present for a small college fair at the Alice Paul Institute in Mt. Laurel, NJ where I got this great tip from  Brandi, the representative from Goucher College in Maryland.

Brandi suggested that printing out address labels before you go can speed up your visits to college tables and give you time to visit more of them or to spend time talking to the representatives.

Labels should have your name, address, phone and email contacts and the name of your high school.Your graduation year is also helpful.  When you find a college that interests you, put a label on the contact form instead of writing out all the information and spend your precious time asking questions instead of writing.

The labels are available at any office supply store for ver y little money.  A little planning ahead can pay big dividend at crowded events as most college fairs are.   You can also use your time on college visits getting good information instead of writing it out if you use an address label instead of a pen.

The Why of College Visits

Frequently parents tell me they don’t want to waste time taking their sons or daughters to see colleges they might not get into. Below is a story from another consultant on what can happen when you decide to wait.

EF’s, the consultant, initials, recently shared this story.

A young relative had several certainties about his college application season:

1 Hew knew everything he need to about college applications.

2. He would be accepted at Hopkins, his first choice

3. He didn’t need to visit University of Michigan, a less desirable choice, until he was admitted.

U Michigan

Unfortunately, his karma dictated an outright rejection by Hopkins and a wait list by the University of Michigan.  In  disbelief,  he contacted his consultant relative for advice on what to do.  EF helped him draft a letter accepting his position on the wait list and describing why he is a great fit for UMich.  The student chose a great major and had researched some of the professors; he was an academic fit; his high school leadership was extensive and appropriate. EF suggested completing the letter with a mention of his mother’s graduation from UMich and details about his visit to campus.  Alas, no visit had been made

How could he say UMich was his number one choice (as now it was) when he hadn’t bothered to show up, literally and figuratively, missing opportunities to connect with the admissions office?  His escape from the wait list became questionable.

Far too many students discount the value of a campus visit until they find themselves in a bind because the sure bet college didn’t admit them and the more realistic alternatives begin to look very good.

So, I’ll say it again, COLLEGE VISITS MATTER, to you and to them. If you care enough to send the very best- yourself– then give them some love before you apply.

Your Social Media Presence Can Sink College Admission

As students visit colleges they are apt to tweet their reaction to a campus or post information about it.

Do you know that some colleges track applicants’ online material? Admissions officers who “friend” applicants can see comments not intended for their eyes.

True stories: applicant denied admission because of derogatory comments about high school teachers and classmates on Facebook. Applicant denied because of tweeted disparaging comments about other students on her college tour.

Best advice? Nothing is private. Don’t make the comments in the first place so you don’t have to waste time trying to scrub your online presence in case the admissions office checks you out!