Deb Coco, College Admissions Coach
At The College Advisor of New York, March and April are normally months when we advise our students to attend their final school visits. Colleges and universities call these “Admitted Student Days” and they are one of the most valuable components of the entire college decision process. These events offer students and families one last chance to step onto campus and ask themselves, “Do I see myself here?”
However, there is nothing normal about this spring and we are in the midst of coast to coast campus closures; all the normal procedures are being amended on a day to day basis. Here are our suggestions in light of the Coronavirus crisis.
At this point you should have heard from all the schools to which you applied and be thinking about your top 3 choices. Normally, May 1 is decision day and you are required to send your deposit and paperwork to become a fall 2020 freshman. But we are seeing schools change this date to June 1, even later in some instances. This is a fluid, school by school situation, but is likely to become the norm as the situation warrants. Please click here for a list of schools who have shifted their decision deadline.
More importantly, we recommend that you contact your top choice schools (you may have to do so via email) and inquire what their process is for accepted freshman. If they plan to hold their Accepted Student Days in late May, we advise you attend. Although one more school visit is probably not your idea of fun, it’s important. From personal experience, Admitted Student Days played a crucial role in 2 of my 3 daughters’ school choices; they had great options and were just “betwixt and between.” Some colleges just knock these days out of the park. They roll out the red carpet, open the athletic buildings, dining halls, auditoriums, residence halls AND let you attend lectures. They host student and faculty panels which enable you to gain a deeper and more personal understanding of the college.
Most schools are now doing this virtually via webinars and online meetings. Please do attend. While it won’t be the same as an actual campus visit, you can learn more about each school from your living room. These programs were what ultimately swayed my children: hearing from some top faculty in their fields of study. They left knowing they’d found the right school. What a WONDERFUL feeling. And, on the flip side, you might learn that a school you thought looked incredible in November has lost its bloom – this happens too, so it is never time wasted!
Other ideas for helping you make your final choice include talking with one of our former clients who now attend your schools of interest. Because we’ve been at this for 16 years, we are very likely to have a current student or alumnus at just about every school on your list. They can provide unbiased , invaluable insights. Finally, you should try to join unofficial campus groups on social media platforms. If you’re into robotics, follow the Robotics Club on Twitter. If you play baseball, join the Facebook group for baseball players. This will help you get past the official word of the college.
So yes, doing more college visits sounds time consuming, but we certainly have a little more time these days. And we don’t know what the next few months will look like. But if these “visits” are an option, please make use of them. You are looking at 4 very expensive years and you’ve worked hard to get this far; it is worth taking the time to truly seal the deal with confidence. In the meantime, we advise that you do more research about your top choices online and reach out to us with any concern. And of course, stay safe!