College visits are crucial for students

Lauren Spiezia

The high school upperclassman is no stranger to a bombardment of letters and emails from colleges with pleas to schedule a campus visit. Information sessions and tours are advertised as ways to connect with a school and its admission staff personally, an important experience that can greatly impact a student’s college decision.

One incentive schools broadcast to attract more visitors is that student who attend information sessions or tours have an advantage in the application process because the school recognizes that student has exhibited interest in attendance. Carolyn Pippen, a former Admissions Officer at Vanderbilt University, reported to US News that this concept, called demonstrated interest, is meant to select applicants that would be less likely to transfer out of the school and keep the college’s retention rate high.

A study conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling and cited on ThoughtCo revealed that about half of American colleges and universities consider an applicant’s demonstrated interest in attending the institution to be moderately or highly important. More selective schools, such as Stanford and Dartmouth, claim to not calculate an applicant’s interest while other colleges, such as Carnegie Mellon and Baylor, emphasize an applicant’s interest.

Although demonstrated interest is not valued by every institution and will not make or break acceptance into every institution, college visits do offer a tangible way to plug into a school. They allow visitors to imagine themselves at each school and determine whether it is a proper fit for them.

Senior Ebbie Shim of Spring Lake Heights believes that tours she has been on has benefitted her in her search for schools.

“I definitely think that it’s easier to see yourself at a school when you’re on a tour thinking about programs you want to do,” Shim said.

The pros and cons of a college’s surrounding area, student population, and social and academic environment can also be rightfully judged when they are seen in person while surrounded by experts from the school.

Lauren McCracken, a spokeswoman for Town University, said summer tours allow for visitors to easily speak with admissions staff, as opposed to during the school year. This ultimately helps  a student to easily understand what they like or dislike about each school and narrow down their list of prospective colleges.

While visiting schools will not ultimately guarantee acceptance to a college, the experience and knowledge gained from tours and information sessions are essential resources for prospective students. They heavily aid high schoolers in their search for where they’ll hopefully begin the best four years of their life.