One More College Visit? Yes!

By Deb Coco, College Admissions Coach

The February doldrums are very real in the lives of high school seniors.  The applications were submitted long ago and the waiting is now all but agonizing.  It does feel like a helpless few months, but the window is closing in on the letters you’ve been waiting for and over the next 5-6 weeks, things will begin to take shape.

Acceptances are exciting; you’ve worked hard for them!  I still remember when my daughters opened theirs, and I now love receiving “I GOT IN!” emails from my students.  Your hard work comes full circle.  But that “fat” envelope – or online portal message – contains more than just your letter of acceptance.  It may have merit aid information (if “X” school awards merit scholarships, but there is also most likely an invitation to something called “Accepted Student Day.”

Often, this gets tossed aside with the envelope in all the excitement. You KNOW college “X” is the school of your dreams so why would you visit AGAIN?  Enter a letter from school “Y” with not only an acceptance, but a fairly substantial scholarship.  As Dr. Dean always says, “it’s nice to be wanted” especially with a merit award that will defray the cost of your overall tuition.  “X” dream school offered nothing, (but it is your #1 choice) and “Y” school offers both, but it is lower down on your list.  What they both offer is a chance to level the playing field by opting IN to their Accepted Student Days. 

These events were darkened by the pandemic, but they are back and we are so happy because these visits are extremely valuable.  Accepted Student Days welcome their admitted pool of freshman so you can take another look with a fresh set of eyes.  And believe me, it will look different in the spring . . . there will be Frisbee on the quad, the campus will be buzzing with activity, and you will know you are just a few months from possibly being one of those students – it is intoxicating.  From personal experience, Admitted Student Days played a crucial role in my own daughters’ school choices; they had good options and were just “betwixt and between.”  Some colleges and universities just knock this day out of the park.  They roll out the red carpet, open the athletic buildings, dining halls, auditoriums, residence halls AND will let you attend lectures.  This was ultimately what swayed my children; hearing from some top faculty in their fields of study.  They left knowing “if I might be in that professor’s class, this is where I want to be!” What a WONDERFUL feeling.

So, yes, it is one more visit and it can be time consuming.  However, you are looking at four 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.  I’ve heard more than a few stories from students who have met their freshman roommates during these days . . . they are well attended and worth it.  And, on the flip side, you might find out that a school you thought looked incredible in September, has lost its bloom – this happens too.  That is never time wasted! 

We are closing in on the final stressful weeks.  Hang tight, think positive, and do not delete that Accepted Student Day Invitation!