Yesterday, my son Ben and I spent a lovely day at Beloit College. An admissions officer applauded Ben for making the long trek from San Diego to Wisconsin to visit the college. She mentioned that some students never visit the campus before applying to the liberal arts school.
I’ve always thought it was strange that teenagers apply to colleges without getting a feel for them. Students seem to believe that it’s okay to wait for the admission verdict before visiting a campus.
A student who takes that approach, however, can end up wasting valuable application slots. Because of the time and expense of applying to colleges, most students apply to just a handful. Applying to more than six or eight is rare.
There is also a practical reason for visiting a college before applying. Colleges prefer students who, in higher-ed lingo, show a “demonstrated interest” in their schools. In fact, nearly one out of four schools consider an applicant’s demonstrated interest in a college an important factor.
Of course, it can be expensive visiting faraway schools, but there are ways to check out schools without leaving town. Admission reps from colleges and universities routinely visit distant cities. In fact, admission officers at both Beloit and Knox College, another well-regarded liberal arts college we visited this week, will be in San Diego soon.
Lynn O’Shaughnesy is the author of The College Solution.