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10 Tips for When a College Visits Your High School

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It’s not an uncommon occurrence for college reps to tour the country, visiting high schools along their way. The function of these visits is multifaceted. In part, the visits serve to spread interest in their schools by educating students about the many programs and activities available there. In addition, the visits serve as an initial point of contact between students and colleges, allowing students to express their interest in a school and to establish a contact at the school itself.


If you are interested in a college that is visiting your high school, meeting with the college rep is highly advisable. This will allow you the chance to meet face-to-face with the rep and ask specific questions while also providing you the chance to let the college know that you’re interested in attending.


It’s also an opportunity to make contact with a person who may be evaluating your application in the future, since in many cases, the reps who visit are actually admissions officers from the college. Sometimes, you might even be able to get an early read on your transcripts, test scores, and course selections to help assess your fit at a particular college and to help figure out what you can do during the remaining months to improve your chances of getting in.


To learn more about making the most of your opportunity when a college visits your high school, check out our 10 top tips.


1. Do Your Research

Before the visit, you should research the school enough to know specifically why you’re interested in it, what programs and activities are offered, and which activities might be of interest to you. Basically, you should have a good idea of why you want to attend the school in the first place, so that your interest in the school is authentic during the visit and so that you can elaborate on it as needed. This is something that you can’t really fake, so be sure to read through the website beforehand to make sure you’re ready to discuss your genuine interest in the school.


2. Ask Your Guidance Counselor About Bringing Transcripts or Applications

Sometimes, a college rep will take the time to review your transcript or application during a high school visit, but this isn’t always the case. This service is more commonly offered by larger state schools, and since you don’t want to appear presumptuous, it’s always best to clarify in advance if it will be available. If your guidance counselor isn’t sure, you might try phoning or emailing the college admissions office ahead of time to ask if the rep is willing to review applications during his or her visit.


3. Dress for Success

While this isn’t a formal interview, you should still dress up enough to show that you respect the time and effort of the college rep who is visiting. A full suit isn’t necessary, but ripped jeans and a dirty t-shirt are definitely not acceptable. Find a happy medium with some nice slacks or skirt and a collared shirt or polished blouse. Your attire should reflect your maturity and your serious approach to college admissions.


4. Show Up Early

This is kind of a fine line, because you don’t want to show up too early and seem like you were either confused about the time or are expecting to have a private conversation with the rep before the meeting begins. It’s best to show up just slightly early, meaning about five to ten minutes. This way, you demonstrate your eagerness to hear what the rep has to say, you ensure that you get a seat that’s front and center, and you might have the opportunity to exchange a few words with the rep before the presentation begins.


Keep in mind, though, that the rep will likely be busy preparing and organizing, so it’s possible that any conversation could be a distraction. Try to get a read on the situation by observing before you initiate any discussion. If it seems like the rep is scurrying around in a rush to get ready, it’s an even better idea to offer assistance.


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5. Ask Authentic Questions

Sometimes, students arrive at information sessions with premeditated questions whose only purpose is to impress or show what they already know. This is a tired and thinly veiled approach, and it’s one that the admissions reps are all too familiar with already. Instead of trying to ask impressive questions, try to ask authentic questions. Think about which programs and activities are of interest to you and come up with a few questions that will lend insight into them.


Some options might include:


  • Are there different admissions requirements for different departments or majors?
  • What choices do freshmen have in class selection?
  • What are the opportunities for internships, research, and employment on campus?


6. Leave a Paper Trail

One of the reasons that reps visit schools in the first place is to identify ahead of time any students who are particularly interested in the school. If this is you, make sure that you leave a record of your attendance. Usually there will be a sign-in sheet or the rep will distribute information cards for you to fill out. It’s important that you don’t overlook this easy step, since not attending an information session held at your own high school will make it look like you aren’t actually interested in the school. Do your part by filling in your information legibly and completely.


7. Be Confident

Even if you’re feeling shy or uncomfortable, it’s important to communicate that you’re a capable and confident applicant. A strong handshake, good eye contact, timely arrival, and steady voice can go a long way. If you’re nervous, try practicing in front of the mirror or with a friend. These are skills you’ll need outside of college visits too, so this is a great time to work on them and gain some practice.


8. Turn Off Your Cell Phone

This should go without saying, but imagine the embarrassment of your Drake or Taylor Swift ring tone blaring unexpectedly during an admissions meeting. Do yourself and your classmates a favor by turning off your phone entirely before the information session. You can definitely do without it for an hour, and if there’s an emergency, you can be certain that someone will contact the school if they can’t get through to your phone.


9. Be Attentive

Sometimes students get so nervous about these meetings that they have trouble focusing during them. You might be so busy rehearsing your carefully worded question repeatedly in your head that you miss important information or the answer to another interesting question. Try to stay focused on the present so that you’re actively engaged and prepared to change your line of questioning as the discussion dictates.


10. Write a Thank-You Note

After the meeting, be sure to ask the rep for a business card or email address. Then, follow up with a thank-you note that specifically mentions a few things you found particularly interesting or insightful from the discussion. This serves as part of the paper trail that establishes your interest in the school and demonstrates your maturity, while also helping to keep communication open with the rep should you have any other questions that arise.


Meeting with a college rep on your high school campus is an exciting yet sometimes nerve-wracking experience. For many students, it might be the first time that you’ve met with a college admissions rep, so it’s natural that the experience might feel a little awkward or uncomfortable at first. Follow our tips above to keep a level head and come out on top.


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.