The Hawk's Eye

Tips for College Visits over February Break

Alison Simons, Copy Editor

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It’s the time of year when several juniors (and hopefully no sophomores) journey near and far to visit various universities. Some stay close to home, while others venture as far as the frigid East Coast. Wherever you go, here are some tips to help you maintain your sanity as you travel:

1. Dress appropriately. Don’t go to Los Angeles wearing your heaviest North Face jacket. Likewise, don’t go to Boston in shorts and flip-flops. Check the weather first!

2. Attend an info session. They can be quite boring and repetitive, but if you pay close attention, you might hear a cool fact or tradition that you can later put in your college essays. Take notes on anything you want to remember that you probably can’t find on the school website.

3. Take a guided tour. Student-led tours are usually more informative about student culture than are info sessions. You can get a good sense of the campus atmosphere and ask your tour guide any questions you might have.

4. Observe the students. Your goal during the college process should be to find “your people,” so make sure you pay attention to the students and how they behave. Are they nice? Do they all seem incredibly stressed? Look out for that stuff! That said, don’t make a snap judgment about a school if one student doesn’t open the door for you.

5. Ask questions. Whether you’re talking to an admissions officer or a Head-Royce alum, it’s important to ask from a reliable source any questions you might have. And what better source than people who work for or attend the school?

6. Explore alone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that your parents learn about your potential colleges with you, but sometimes their commentary can distract you from your own opinions. If you’re comfortable, ask for half an hour alone so that you can explore by yourself. After all, they won’t attend college with you!

7. Attend a class. Most admission offices provide opportunities for potential students to sit in on a class (parents might not be allowed). You can really get an idea of what it would be like to be a student at that college. Plus, you might learn something cool!

8. Try the food. Sometimes, potential students can eat in the dining halls themselves, but many colleges have small cafés from which anyone can purchase food. Just make sure that you can survive on the food at that college for four years without losing your mind (unfortunately, not every place has food as good as the Bay Area does).

9. Contact adults with whom you might interact. If you’re interested in playing tennis, try to set up a meeting with the tennis coach. If you’re interested in majoring in math, find a math professor and ask them questions. Find out as much information as you can about programs in which you’re interested.

10. Stay with a student. Many parents may not agree to let you travel alone and sleep over in the dorms, but that is an excellent way to really embrace the role of a student at that college. It also helps you practice independence!

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