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Seeing is Believing: How to Maximize College Visits


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We all know not to judge a book by its cover. So for students, particularly those who will be first in their family to go to college, it’s important not to rely on glossy brochures, picturesque websites, and virtual tours to learn about college life and make informed decisions about their future college home. This workshop will not only help you and your students get onto college campuses, but also optimize your experiences while there. Learn how colleges are effectively collaborating with educational access organizations to bring students to campus, and take away advice on how your organization can arrange campus visits beyond the standard tour and info session, and receive first-hand tips on how to make sure the visit is a success.

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Seeing is Believing: How to Maximize College Visits

  1. 1. • Chelsea Jones, Outreach and Student Support Associate, Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) • Amy Lareau, Admission Counselor, Colorado College • Irma J. Navarro, Assistant Director of Multicultural Admission, Davidson College • Keith Wilkerson, Senior Program Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Region, A Better Chance (ABC)
  2. 2.  1. Learn how colleges are effectively collaborating with organizations to bring first-generation and traditionally underserved students to campus.  2. Gain advice on how your organization can arrange campus visits for your students beyond the standard tour and info session.  3. Receive tips on how to effectively coordinate trip logistics.  4. Discover where to learn about special campus visit programs, open houses, and fly-in opportunities offered by colleges and universities across the country.
  3. 3. a) held on set times on weekdays (morning and afternoon).* b) include a guided tour and information session led by an admission counselor. c) scheduled by contacting the Visit Coordinator or by completing a Group Visit Request on a timely fashion (at least 2-4 weeks in advance). d) most comprehensive when the Director of Multicultural Admission, or equivalent, is aware that a CBO is visiting!
  4. 4. a) Catered dinner (with Admission Office staff and current students) b) Faculty/Staff/Student Panel c) Explore Campus on own/Scavenger Hunt (with prizes) d) Overnight Host e) Breakfast at Commons f) Campus Tour g) Visit Classes h) Box Lunches prior to departure i) Opportunity to meet with CBO alumni currently enrolled j) During open house programs: Multicultural Hospitality Suite and/or transportation (for local groups)
  5. 5. a) Research institution prior to your visit b) Schedule your visit in advance c) Inquire about special visitation programs ("Fly-ins") d) Schedule elements outside the "official visit events" a) Meet with a professor b) Meet with a student from your HS/CBO c) Try the food at the Commons d) Sit in a class e) Read bulletin boards f) Walk around the neighborhood g) Overnight visit (usually for seniors, at select colleges) e) Even if you drop-in, make sure the Admission Office knows you visited f) Take pictures/notes by the end of the day to record your thoughts and impressions (may help you write effective essays in your Common Application Supplement)
  6. 6. Source: NACAC Guiding the Way to Higher Education Step-By-Step to College Workshops For Students Late High School Curriculum Grades 11 and 12
  7. 7. Housing/Facilities  Percentage of students living on campus  Types of housing (double, triple, single, suite, apartment, co-ed, within walking distance)  Percent of students with car on-campus, parking facilities/restrictions, and parking fees  Meal plans, options for those with dietary restrictions  Local dining options (walking & driving distance)  Public Transit  Campus Calendar & Social Calendar/Newsletter (i.e. "The Crier" at Davidson)  Recreational facilities, local resources  Quality of buildings (LEED, new construction/renovation, expansion) Activities  Clubs/Organizations  Greek Life  Only 956 colleges/universities have sororities/fraternities (according to College Board)  Percentage of "Greek" students  Pan-Hellenic Organizations  Events open to all students?  Athletics (Division I, II, III), Club, Intramural Support Programs  Pre-Orientation Programs (.i.e. S.T.R.I.D.E. (Students Together Reaching Individual Development and Education) at Davidson College  Counseling  Tutoring Post Graduation Placement  4 year graduation rate (vs. "graduation rate")  Employment rates  Graduate school rates  Senior Class Survey (good way to see how alumni leverage degrees)  Career Services, Networking, Internships, Recruitment Random  Quirky campus traits  Long standing campus traditions  What stood out the most (good and bad)? Contact Information  Is a regional admission counselor assigned to you?  Is a financial aid counselor assigned to you?  Email/Phone/Fax/Mailing Address Location  Nearest city/town (average flight costs)  Distance from home  School setting (urban, suburban, rural) Size  Enrollment (Graduate & Undergraduate)  Physical size of campus Environment  Co-ed, Male, Female  HBCU, Liberal Arts, Research University  Residential, Non-traditional Students Admission Profile (Target, Reach)  Admit Rate (Reg., ED, EA)  Middle 50% SAT/ACT  Percentage of students in top 10% Class  Top 5 Admission Criteria (rigor, performance, extracurricular involvement, writing, letters of recommendation, testing, demonstrated interest)  Application Deadlines Academics  Majors of interest offered  Average Class Size (and largest class size available to freshmen)  Student faculty ration (does ratio include graduate school professors?)  How do students select classes  Special programs (research, interdisciplinary, 3-2, exchange, partnerships) Total Cost of Attendance  Tuition, Room, Board, Student Fees  Estimated personal/travel expenses  Methodology (Federal vs. Institutional)  Meet 100% Calculated Need?  How is Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) met?  Percentage of families who qualify for need-based financial aid & average financial aid award  Merit Based Scholarship & Deadlines & Required Materials  Required forms/supporting materials & Deadlines
  8. 8.  They may be funded by the colleges for prospective students to attend. (Some may also fund parents and/or a CBO program director and pay for overnight lodging!)  If an academically eligible student is unable to attend the Multicultural Open House weekend, colleges may still fund travel for this student at a later date.  Encourage your students to take FULL advantage of these visits days. They may be tempted to skip admission programming to socialize with new friends (current students/overnight hosts) who have other plans in mind. But they will not want to miss out on opportunities to: o Complete important financial aid paperwork o Visit a class and experience what it feels like to be a student at that particular college o Interview with an Admission Director o Meet with faculty, staff, and current students at Open House events  Students can learn of these fly-in programs directly through a college’s website or through messaging from outreach and social media sites such as Cappex, Zinch, CSO, and NPEA.  If students inquire about the college early in their search and sign up to be put on an admissions mailing list –via online or at a college fair - they will likely be notified of such opportunities to engage further and visit.
  9. 9.  Preparing for the visit: • Researching the school before the visit to gain general knowledge about the university • Research majors of interest, as well as on-campus organizations that may be of interest • Based on research, come up with questions to ask the tour guide during the visit  During the Visit: • A warm and welcoming tour guide! (makes the students feel special!) • A specialized tour specific to the group of students on the visit • Having a tour guide that can relate to the specific group of students (ethnicity, geographically, academic interests, etc.) • Free SWAG: Students love free stuff! Collegiate apparel, information packets, pens, stickers, small school flags, etc. • Being able to interact with current students on the campus and get a sense of their experiences (current first-generation students, current students of color, etc.)
  10. 10. Center for Student Opportunity provides colleges, CBOs, and high school counselors with a monthly newsletter called Opportunity Knocks, which highlights fly-in programs, mentoring programs, academic support services, and retention programs from a variety of CSO’s College Partners. CSO Opportunity Knocks
  11. 11. Chelsea Jones - Amy Lareau - Cara Martin - Irma J. Navarro – Keith Wilkerson -