Debating the benefits, best time to visit colleges
Every year it seems college gets harder to get into, traveling gets more expensive and students wonder if it is worth it to visit colleges before they hear back on a decision. Taking a trip down to visit a college may seem like a waste of time to students as they could simply look up colleges online and see just as much as they would on a tour.
By just going online to see a college and not visiting, students are missing out on a huge opportunity. “People should visit colleges before they hear back about a decision or even before they apply because it could change their perception on those colleges,” senior Jared Rabin said.
When colleges are making decisions on which applications to accept, they like to see that the student has shown some form of interest in the college other than an application. Visiting colleges before applying and taking school-sponsored tours are a great way to show that one is actually interested in those schools. The majority of colleges that host tours of the campus have a system in which potential applicants sign in. By doing this, colleges can see whether you have visited campus for a tour or not. Although this may not seem important to students, if a college is deciding between two students with similar GPA’s and test scores but only one of them has visited, they will most likely choose that student as he/she has shown more interest in the college.
Visiting colleges before applying is smart as students will be able to see if a college is a good fit for them or not. Students often don’t know if they want a small or a large college and visiting schools and going to classes is a great way to find out.“You should visit schools before you hear back on a decision because you never know if you’re going to like a small or large campus until you actually visit and see the classes,” math teacher William Butkey said.
Getting a feel for the environment students are going to be in during college is essential before applying to colleges. This way they can rule out colleges they don’t like and not waste time applying to them. “I visited a bunch of colleges during my junior year well before I started working on my college applications as I wanted to get a feel for where I want to go and so colleges would see I visited,” senior Ryan Mariani said.
Although traveling to visit colleges can be expensive, in the long run it will pay when students apply to the colleges that work best for them. “I don’t really think it’s ever too early to start looking for colleges and visiting them to make sure you love wherever you end up,” senior Jesse Lotenberg said.
While a college visit is good to get first impressions, it is best for high school seniors to wait to visit until they receive decisions from schools, due to the possibility of being rejected and the expensive visits draining parents’ bank accounts.
Imagine this scenario: you visit a college and you love it. You think you have found the college for you and there is no need to keep searching. But, you get rejected and are now filled with broken dreams.
Now imagine this scenario: you applied to an Ivy League school expecting to get rejected. You decide on another college and become attached to this new college after your visit. But then, you get accepted to the Ivy League school, and all of the time and money you spent visiting the other one was wasted because you decided to visit before you heard back.
While there are a few colleges nearby such as Maryland, Penn State, UVA, UMBC and UPenn, there are a lot of colleges that require a flight. There is no point in wasting money just to see a school you don’t know you’ll be attending.
Once your acceptance letter comes in the mail, you have the opportunity to tour the school and meet potential friends and roommates at the open house. No need to blow through cash just to visit a school you don’t see yourself going to. According to the New York Times, “College tours may hinder students’ ability to pick a college that will further their interests and goals.”
High school juniors and seniors tend to go through colleges fast, putting little thought and research into the school they are touring. It is better to take it slow and put thought and time into what colleges to apply to, considering the weight of their decision. According to the New York Times, “Whatever students see or experience during a brief campus visit whether it’s a sunny day or an ill-prepared tour guide will inevitably stand out and have a disproportionate effect on their decision-making.”
When visiting colleges, it is unlikely that you will travel without your family. On a college visit, your parents come along with you and are unable to do the things they need to do. Not only does this inconvenience them, but everyone else in your family as well, ruining any plans they had to come look at a college.
School visits usually occur during the school year and considering college visits typically occur on weekdays, you need to miss school to visit these colleges. Depending on the day, your work piling up could be overwhelming just for missing a few measly days of school. It’s worth all of the makeup work and tests just to visit a college you may not even go to. So, be patient and visit after you’ve heard back.