Taking the stress out of selection: tips and tricks for college visits

Syd Pierre, page editor

The smell of fall is in the air, leaves are crunching underfoot, and it’s almost time for. . . college visits? That’s right, MEA break is coming up soon and according to Bill Hicks, a school counselor at Edina High School, that third week in October is the perfect opportunity to check out college campuses across the country. Check out Hicks’ top four tips for college visits below!

Plan your visit through the admissions office

Hicks’ highly recommends planning your college visit through the school’s admissions office, rather than just showing up on campus and touring around by yourself. Touring campuses by yourself may seem like a better option because when you go through the admissions office, you’re more likely to get a more generic campus tour. However, going through the admissions office sets you up for success in the future, because it gives you a person of contact, which can be helpful later on. Hicks explained that there are colleges across the country that “track students’ contacts with them and many times if they know that you are showing interest by coming for a college visit, they will look at that as being something very favorable.” This small action could set you apart in the selection process, especially if you’re interested in sitting in on a few classes when you tour the campus.

Tour the campus while school is in session

While touring college campuses during the summer is a great opportunity for sophomores and juniors to get a feel for the campus, Hicks emphasizes the importance of taking a tour while the school is in session. The main focus of college visits “is to get a feel for the school, to get a better understanding of the programs, and to get a better understanding of what the student body is like and how they interact with each other,” Hicks said. Checking out the student body, meeting professors, and possibly sitting in on a few classes are all important factors in the search for the right college. This is what makes MEA break, as well as spring break the perfect opportunities to check out campuses around the country. Colleges typically have very different schedules than high schools, which means that they will most likely still be in session while during MEA and spring break.

Don’t forget to utilize your local resources

EHS gives students the great opportunity to meet with college representatives without even having to leave the state of Minnesota. These representatives come from colleges all over the country to answer questions and talk to students who may be interested in applying. The visits started a few weeks into the school year and will go into around Thanksgiving time, picking back up in the spring after the application process has ended. Hicks estimates that around 200 college representatives will visit EHS in the fall, and almost 75 will visit in the springtime. These visits are a great way for underclassmen to start getting involved in the college application process and for upperclassmen to ask any lingering questions they may have.

The earlier, the better

The main piece of advice that Hicks had was to start early. In the end, the best way you can help take some stress out of your college selection process is to start as early as possible. Call the admissions office, reach out to friends or family that go to the school, and make sure to thoroughly research the schools you’re interested in before you take a tour take. It’s never too early to start the selection process, even if you’re an underclassman. Start small, by checking out the college representatives that visit EHS, maybe take a few visits to colleges that you’re interested, and of course, do your research.