Don’t just tour…make an impression

Two weeks ago we provided insight to high school juniors and parents—if you want to start the college search process, start with campus visits. There is no better way to get a sense of the types of schools a students likes/dislikes than seeing them first-hand when students are on campus.  From there, you can begin to extrapolate preferences to campuses you have not visited (and start drafting your first school list).

However, if you truly want to make the most out of your campus visits, there are a few small things you can do before, during, and after the tour that will make the time significantly more valuable.  Before we dive into those, let me paint a picture of the typical prospective student and family (note: after reading this article, this will NOT be you!):

John Doe is a junior in high school.  He has begun to hear whisperings about “beginning the college search.”  His mother, Jane, has too.  One Saturday morning, Jane suggests they take a trip into the city to visit the local university.  They hop into their car and drive to campus.  On their way to admissions, they find it odd that they pass very few students out and about on campus.  Odd, considering it is a weekend.  When they arrive at admissions, they are disappointed—the Saturday morning tour is completely booked up!  Not wanting to waste the trip, John and Jane walk around campus, poking their head into the gym, cafeteria, and main library.  After an hour self-guided tour, they head home. 

How to complete a campus tour better than John and Jane

  1. Plan your campus trips 2-4 weeks ahead of time. John and Jane didn’t do this.  As a result, the tour was completely booked.  To add insult to injury, they visited on a football weekend—the only problem was it was an away game and most students had left campus for the game!  Plan your trips ahead of time and book a tour as well as an information session online to reserve your spot.  Planning your trips ahead of time is also a good idea to ensure campus has students—visiting when no one is there does not give you an accurate representation of the school.
  2. Email (or even better, call) your admissions rep ahead of time. This one is a Delehey Consulting specialty—you know what would have saved John and Jane even with a fully booked tour?  If they had a relationship with John’s admissions rep at the university.  A brief email or call ahead of time simply introducing yourself is never a bad thing.  Not only does it prove you are truly interested in the school, but it might just get you some special privileges on tour days.  Lastly, please note: official communications with school officials are documented these days and added to student files.  Displaying interest will be noticed (see next step).
  3. Make sure someone knows you are there! This is where John and Jane really made their mistake.  Sure, they didn’t plan ahead of time and didn’t establish a relationship with anyone in admissions, but they still should have let someone in admissions know they were there!  Like I said above, campus visits are documented and added to any prospective student’s file.  There is no better way to display interest than visiting campus.  But, in admissions’ eyes, a visit didn’t happen if you didn’t tell anyone.  At the very least, John and Jane should have introduced themselves at the admissions front desk and requested a sign-in sheet—this is common practice and certainly would have been provided.
  4. If you know a current student on campus, let them know you are coming. This one is the icing on the cake and is not always possible.  But if it is, you should absolutely give it a shot. Not only could a current student show you areas of campus not highlighted on the tour (think: Greek Life), but they can help you out in a lesser-known way as well: student recommendations.  These days, schools take current student/alumni rec letters seriously.  If you establish a relationship with a current student on campus during your visit, down the road she might just be willing to drop a quick note by the admissions office recommending you.  Little things like this go a long way with admissions.

So there you have it.  If you complete even two of the four suggestions above, you will have separated yourself from 90% of your competition (aka other prospective students).  Complete all four and I guarantee you very few other applicants are in your camp.

The best part of these suggestions?  They take very little additional time!  An email here, a phone call there, a 10-minute coffee with a student.  You’re looking at potentially 30 more minutes of effort and a significantly better chance of acceptance down the road.

These tips aren’t for everyone, but at Delehey College Consulting, they are mandatory.  We specialize in working with the country’s most elite students to set them up for the best possible chance of success.  Want to learn more and see if you could be a fit for our program?  Schedule a free 15 minute “get to know you” session here!

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-Jack & Jordan