Last week I wrote about summer plans, mostly about programs to attend and things not to do. However, there are a couple of other things that are truly important to attend to during the summer months that you really must schedule.
One of the most important adventures students and their families should undertake, whether boarding school or university, is visiting schools. If you are seriously thinking about applying to school over the next two years, visiting schools is really a must!
Here are some of things to be aware of when planning a visit.
1. Plan ahead, be prepared
a.`Know which schools you are visiting each day and schedule your visit well in advance
b. Make sure you have mapped out your travel plans – literally – use Googlemaps, or Mapquest for your itinerary. Mapquest is great since it provides the exact distance from one place to another and you can download the itinerary.
c.Remember America is bigger than it may seem.
2.Find out what the school’s policy is on visiting, how to set up an appointment and what is required before visiting. Some boarding schools are requiring parts of the application prior to setting up a visit or interview on campus. Once you know what the schools policy is, then contact the boarding school ahead of time. Remember that image is everything and in this case, your image and how the school will perceive your family.
a.You can find information on Visiting under the Admission tab on the school website.
b.Please, do not arrive unannounced, particularly boarding schools.
c.Don’t expect an interview unless you have specifically asked, met the application procedures the school states. Not every school offers interviews during the summer.
d.Most schools are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
e.Remember it is summer vacation. School staff has vacation too!
3. Plan on spending a couple of hours at each school. A typical visit will last a minimum of two hours. Usually you will have a tour and then a chat or interview. Schedule time to drive around the neighborhood of the school, after all, you as the student, will be spending at maximum four years living there.
4. Unless the schools you are visiting are really close together, two schools a day is really the maximum you will want to plan visiting.
5. Be sure to arrive at least fifteen (15) minutes early. Arriving an hour early is awkward for everyone.
6. While on the tour or visiting the campus be sure to ask good questions. If you have done your research well, you will have some clarifying questions or more in-depth queries. If you haven’t done your research … well…
7. Make sure one member of your is a designated photographer to record your visit. Not a video, that is too bulky. The photographer should be focusing on landmark spaces and areas – classrooms, library, dorm rooms, sport facilities, dining areas and unique aspects of the school. Make sure that at least one picture is of the School name.
a. Once back in the car get the photos downloaded to a computer and properly titled – school, description of the photo etc…
b. This will help remember one school from another – trust me schools begin to blend together
8. Make sure you are visiting a wide range of schools. This is especially true of boarding schools, but universities are not exempt from this idea. There are lots of great schools and they vary widely in the programs they offer, their facilities, locations and sizes. Get a good sense of what they are all about and what it may feel like being a student there. Just visiting top schools is doing a disservice to the learning process and limiting one’s view of educational possibilities. Think broadly, especially if you are planning this visit two years ahead of applying.
9. Schools during the summer are never really the same as during the regular academic year. But, if possible talk to current students and teachers. Find out as much as you can about the type of community the school has and wants to create. Look out for special programs and facilities such as STEM, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or add Art for STEAM).
10. Visiting is the best opportunity to imagine what it is like to be a student there, as best as one can. But remember, the faculty and admission representatives (including the tour guide) are evaluating you as well and not just during the interview.
a. Dress appropriately
b. Act appropriately
c. Have good manners – if you are legitimately going to be late, call the school and forewarn them. So make sure you have phone numbers for the admission office.
d. Be respectful while waiting in the office for your tour or interview.
This should give you plenty to think about as you plan for visits. But again, one cannot truly get the sense of a school unless you visit. Make the time. Everyone will benefit from seeing the school in person.
Finally, have some fun over the summer. Your brain deserves a break from all the cramming of information you do the rest of the year. It needs a vacation too.
Safe travels and adventures!
Questions for Hamilton? Please email questions about the admissions process or university applications to firstname.lastname@example.org