3 College Visit Red Flags
By Tasha, IvyWise College Admissions Counselor
As we head into fall and winter breaks, you might consider taking your college search to the next level by going on college tours and visits. Though the pandemic has vastly changed the landscape of what is possible – there are many virtual tour possibilities – when possible and safe, you should do your best to go on in-person tours.
If you are going on many college visits during a short period of time, during fall break, for example, it can be easy to start feeling overwhelmed. The details of each college may start to blur, and everything can start looking and sounding the same. It is important to take breaks and take a step back to ensure that you are getting the most out of your college visit experiences and to keep an eye out for any red flags you may find along the way.
One: You Are Not Excited by the Offerings and Possibilities
One of the most common questions I get from students is about how important grades and academic factors are in the college admissions process. When answering this question, I always turn the question back on the student: what is the point of college? Sure, in many ways, college is about self-discovery and personal growth, but ultimately, college is first and foremost about academics. So yes, of course academic factors are important in the admissions process. Similarly, academic factors should be prioritized during a student’s college search process.
Often, students interested in very specific academic programs will make concessions around a college’s academic offerings. However, you should prioritize finding institutions that offer your intended major.
Don’t get me wrong, academic interests may change, and you should make sure you are not choosing a college based on a single factor. That said, I do think you should prioritize academic offerings and interests and put them at the forefront of your mind when evaluating colleges on your college tours.
Two: You Don’t See Yourself
Though college is primarily about academics, it is also about the experience you’ll have and the impact you’ll make on the campus community. Some students feel strongly about attending a school where they will find students with similar backgrounds who understand where they are coming from. If, like me, you are a student from an under-represented background, this can be especially important. College can be challenging but having a community of people who know where you are coming from can make a major difference.
If, as you walk around a campus, you do not see yourself fitting in — whatever that means for you — chances are, if you cannot see yourself there now, you will not see yourself there in the future.
That said, diversity on college campuses is also part of what can make college so special. It is important to be able to see yourself but also to be able to see yourself as a member of a diverse community. If diversity is important to you and you do not see it during your visit, keep that in mind moving forward.
Three: You Are Making Concessions
As you approach each new visit, make sure you have a list of your non-negotiable priorities. Consult the list and consider it during each visit. You should be able to check off each one of those priorities during your visit.
You will know you are compromising if you find yourself making excuses for why you are unable to check off one or more of your priorities. You should never have to make a major concession, especially if you are at the beginning of your search process.
Some students have their hearts set on a particular state or a specific region of the country. Others, as mentioned in the first section, have very particular academic interests. And yet others may prioritize certain sports, niche clubs, or affinity groups. Whatever is truly important to you should not be something you have to compromise. If a college does not have what you are looking for, do not make concessions.
As important as it is to keep these red flags in mind, it is just as important to have a list of what you are looking for. If you do not know what you are looking for, it will be extra hard to identify what you do not want.
College visits, and virtual tours, are a vital part of the college prep process! Whether you have just started to identify best-fit schools or are crafting plans to visit the schools on your college list, IvyWise is here to help. Contact us today for more information on our college counseling and college visit planning services!