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How to Make the Most of College Visits

Photo Credit: Bucknell University Spring and Summer are excellent times for many families to hit the road and start exploring colleges with their first college visit road trip. Here are some tips to make the most out of your journey:

  • If you do not have the budget to visit colleges far away, a local college visit tour can be just as helpful. I urge you to visit at least two distinctly different colleges, such as one large, public research university and then a small, private liberal arts-focused college. For example, if you are in Connecticut, you could visit the University of Connecticut and then Trinity College.

  • Register for the official walking tour, which a knowledgeable current student ambassador leads. These students are a wealth of information, and I find they are the best people to ask questions to get some “unpolished” answers to tough questions such as “If you could change one thing about this school, what would it be?” The walking tour allows you to glimpse what life would be like if you attended, such as eating in the dining commons, living in the residence halls, and attending class in a lecture hall. You can often register for specific tours, such as an Engineering Department oHousing tour. You cannot gather this valuable information just by looking through a college’s website. Many colleges also offer special prospective student days ("Open House" or "Preview Day"), where you can spend all day on campus as if you were a student. Take advantage of these types of experiences whenever you can. Some examples: University of Wyoming Discovery Days Washington State University Fall Preview Colorado College Open House

  • If you have time, attend the info session as well. Typically, an info session happens right before a tour or after one concludes. An admissions team member leads this session, which generally covers highlights about the school and topics such as what the school is looking for in its applicants. There is always a good chunk of time dedicated to question-and-answer, and who better to answer your question about the admission process than the person directly involved?

  • Email a rugby coach or team president before your visit and ask to meet him/her while you are there. Most coaches and team leaders are more than happy to meet prospective students, show off the athletic facilities, and even have students observe a practice. What a great way to see how a rugby program works, get to know a coach, and demonstrate your interest in a rugby program. Ask current players what they like or dislike about studying and playing at a particular college. Also, take special care to watch the level of play – do you feel you could compete for a spot, or would you sit on the bench every year?

  • Take notes. If you're seeing multiple campuses, it is easy to get a lot of the information mixed up, especially if they are close together or have similar aesthetics. When you're done with a tour, take a few minutes to jot some notes down on your phone or in a notepad about things that stuck out to you, things you were surprised by, or things you want to follow up and learn more about. A great checklist can also be a quick way to keep everything organized. There is a handy one in our Rugger's Edge Playbook or one from CollegeBoard.

  • Lastly, HAVE FUN! College visits are an exciting time to explore and decide what factors you want in the college you will attend. Enjoy the experience!

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