In the spring and fall, admission officers travel around the world to recruit applicants for the next admission cycle. They may be conducting an information session in your town, and if you haven’t visited a college on your list, this is a great opportunity to learn more about it. The sessions provide an overview of the school’s programs and student life, as well as information about the application and financial aid process. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
Some schools do joint programs, where you can learn about several colleges in one evening. Another nice thing about joint programs is that you may go because you are interested in one school and end up discovering that another school you hadn’t considered would be a really good fit for you.
One of the most popular programs is Exploring College Options. Admissions officers from Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Penn and Stanford will offer short presentations and answer questions. Admissions officers from Brown, University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, and Rice will be presenting their Exploring Educational Excellence program in many cities.
The Colleges That Change Lives program is a great opportunity to learn about this group of 44 student-centered colleges. The schools vary in program offerings, location, selectivity and other characteristics. But they all share a commitment to undergraduate education, and many of the schools have an excellent track record for graduate school acceptances.
Admissions officers at these events are usually assigned to the local area and will probably be the first person to read your application and so this is an opportunity to establish a relationship. When you speak with an admissions officer, be sure to get a business card so you can follow up with an email thanking her for coming, mentioning something that resonated with you from your conversation about the school and asking a follow-up question. In addition to learning more about the school so that you are better able to decide if it is a match, you can gain insights that may help you write a “Why are you applying to our college?” application essay. You will also be demonstrating interest, which can’t hurt in the admissions process.
These information sessions can help you get off to a good start when you are putting together your college list, as you get an overview of each school. But admissions officers are there to promote their school and their enthusiasm can leave you infatuated with all of them, especially when the slide shows make each campus look so beautiful and inviting. You will get more out of the programs if you have done some research and come prepared with a list of questions. While parents ask most of the questions at these sessions, admissions officers like to see students engaging them in conversation about their school.
These programs certainly don’t take the place of a campus visit. But attending an information session may help you decide whether you want to invest the time and money to visit a school. Be sure to register on the website of any school that interests you so that you will be on the mailing list for admission events in your area.