The following piece was written by Joie Jager-Hyman. Joie has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is a former Assistant Director of Admissions for Dartmouth College. She is the founder of her own admissions consulting service, College Prep 360.
As spring break approaches, many families with 10th and 11th graders are gearing up to hit the road for campus visits. Many students and parents are tempted to focus on certain data points like size, location, selectivity, cost, and choice of majors. All of these are important things to consider in your college search—but not at the expense of overlooking how you feel when you are on campus. Researchers have discovered that we make good decisions using both reason and emotion. If you step onto a campus and don’t feel like you belong there, don’t ignore your gut! Emotions don’t just go away if we ignore them. The right college for you will have all the “rational” things you need (location, size, cost, majors, etc.) and feel like a place where you can truly thrive.
Many students will want to sign up for tours and information sessions given by admissions officers. These information sessions are good opportunities to ask questions about admissions and financial aid. You won’t always have access to the person who could potentially be reading your application next fall, so take advantage of your time with him or her by asking good questions (and don’t forget to take notes…)!
Questions to Ask During the Information Session:
· Is there any advantage to applying Early Decision/Early Action?
· What are the acceptance rates for students who apply early decision vs. students who apply regular decision?
· Are there particular courses that you want to see on a high school transcript?
· How do you factor in the rigor of courses when you look at a high school transcript?
· What standardized tests are required for admissions? Does it help to take more tests than those that are required?
· How are standardized tests factored into admissions decisions?
· How important is GPA or class rank in admissions decisions?
· How important are extracurricular activities? Are there certain activities that you like to see more than others?
· How do you look at students who have part-time jobs?
· Do you consider whether a student is applying for financial aid when you make your admissions decisions?
· How many admissions officers read each application? How often do you make admissions decisions by committee?
· In your opinion, what makes a good college essay?
· How many letters of recommendation are required? Who should I ask to write on my behalf? Can I send additional letters of recommendation?
· Do you look at art or music supplements?
· What does your ideal applicant look like?
· What are some common mistakes that you see students make on their applications?
· Do you have any samples of applications or essays that you really liked?
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.