Category Archives: college visits

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

Summer vacation is right around the corner, and with it comes many opportunities to visit potential colleges. In the fall, you’ll be incredibly busy with classes, homework, and college applications. Which means that it’s more important than ever to visit prospective colleges while you still have time.

The fact that fewer students are on campus can sometimes make it harder to get a good feel for a school, but that doesn’t mean the visit isn’t worth it. In fact, if you plan effectively, there are even a few advantages. The summer is an excellent time to explore a wide variety of different colleges, and discover what’s most important to you. If a school ends up at the top of your list, you can always plan a return trip for the fall.

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

Visiting campuses is an important step in the college admissions process. Since you’ll be visiting in the summer, your visits can last longer. You’ll have fewer responsibilities and will be able to extend trips for an extra day or two. This gives you time not only to see more colleges, but to tour each one in a more in-depth way. You’ll have time to stay overnight, which in turn provides opportunities to meet with professors and explore the surrounding town (more on that below).

Visit far-away campuses.

In order to figure out which schools will fit you best, it’s important to visit as many as you reasonably can – from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, located in big cities, small towns and everywhere in between. Since you don’t have to worry about missing school, you can explore campuses that are otherwise too far from home; the summer is a great time to drive or fly cross-country – even abroad! Not to mention that, if you’re already planning a vacation, you may be able to visit nearby campuses.

Personalize your tour.

There will be fewer students on campus, but fewer visitors as well. Over the summer, both tour groups and information sessions will be smaller. Take advantage of this, and ask more questions about the specific features that matter to you.

Seek out students who stayed behind.

Even though it’s summer, there will still be students on campus – you just have to try a little harder to find them.  Some will be taking classes, while others will be conducting research, interning, or working. And, luckily for you, admissions offices are generally more than happy to put you in contact with students to talk to you about life on campus. In some cases, they can even pair you with students who share your interest in particular majors, sports, or other organizations. All you have to do is ask!

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

Visit the home pages of departments you are interested in and find one or two faculty members who teach or conduct research there. Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you. You’ll be surprised how often they say yes, especially if you’re visiting during the less busy summer months. Meeting directly with faculty is a great way to find useful information about academic programs that are important to you, and to learn about the school from a unique perspective. Find out why faculty choose to teach at this particular college, and ask about the kinds of students who thrive there. In doing so, you’ll gain a deeper and more nuanced view of academic life on campus.

Hit the town.

The summer also gives you time to explore the surrounding town. In addition to checking out restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment venues, make sure to do your homework on more practical places like pharmacies, grocery stores, and bookstores. You may also want to take some time to check out potential off-campus housing, especially if a significant percentage of students choose not to live on campus.

Take notes (and pictures, too).

Once you’ve visited a large number of colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each. Take notes and pictures throughout your visit in order to keep track of the features you like (as well as those you don’t). Capture the architecture, paying particular attention to buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, and gym.

Remember to register.

Finally, remember to register at the admissions office when you visit. This will ensure that each college has a permanent record of your visit, an important part of demonstrating interest.

Enjoy yourself!

The college process is already fraught with enough anxiety, so make this part as enjoyable as possible. Enjoy travelling, and have fun imagining yourself as a student at different colleges – pretty soon, you will be!

Here at Collegiate Gateway, we’re always happy to help! Feel free to contact us with any questions about the college process.

 

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

Summer vacation is right around the corner, and with it comes many opportunities to visit potential colleges. In the fall, you’ll be incredibly busy with classes, homework, and college applicants. Which means that it’s more important than ever to visit prospective colleges while you still have time.

The fact that fewer students are on campus can sometimes make it harder to get a good feel for a school, but that doesn’t mean the visit isn’t worth it. In fact, if you plan effectively, there are even a few advantages. The summer is an excellent time to explore a wide variety of different colleges, and discover what’s most important to you. And if a school ends up at the top of your list, you can always plan a return trip for the fall.

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

Visiting campuses is an important step in the college admissions process.  Since you’ll be visiting in the summer, your visits can last longer. You’ll have fewer responsibilities, and will be able to extend trips for an extra day or two. This gives you time not only to see more colleges, but to tour each one in a more in-depth way. You’ll have time to stay overnight, which in turn provides opportunities to meet with professors, and explore the surrounding town (more on that below).

Visit far-away campuses.

In order to figure out which schools will fit you best, it’s important to visit as many as you reasonably can – from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, located in big cities, small towns and everywhere in between. Since you don’t have to worry about missing school, you can explore campuses that are otherwise too far from home; the summer is a great time to drive or fly cross-country – even abroad! Not to mention that, if you’re already planning a vacation, you may be able to visit nearby campuses.

Personalize your tour.

There will be fewer students on campus, but fewer visitors as well. Over the summer, both tour groups and information sessions will be smaller. Take advantage of this, and ask more questions about the specific features that matter to you.

Seek out students who stayed behind.

Even though it’s summer, there will still be students on campus – you just have to try a little harder to find them.  Some will be taking classes, while others will be conducting research, interning, or working. And, luckily for you, admissions offices are generally more than happy to put you in contact with students to talk to you about life on campus. In some cases, they can even pair you with students who share your interest in particular majors, sports, or other organizations. All you have to do is ask!

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

Visit the home pages of departments you are interested in and find one or two faculty members who teach or conduct research there. Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you. You’ll be surprised how often they say yes, especially if you’re visiting during the less busy summer months. Meeting directly with faculty is a great way to find useful information about academic programs that are important to you, and to learn about the school from a unique perspective. Find out why faculty chose to teach at this particular college, and ask about the kinds of students who thrive there. In doing so, you’ll gain a deeper and more nuanced view of academic life on campus.

Hit the town.

The summer also gives you time to explore the surrounding town. In addition to checking out restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment venues, make sure to do your homework on more practical places like pharmacies, grocery stores, and bookstores. You may also want to take some time to check out potential off-campus housing, especially if a significant percentage of students choose not to live on campus.

Take notes (and pictures, too).

As you continue to visit colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each college. Take notes and pictures throughout your visit in order to keep track of the features you like (as well as those you don’t). Capture the architecture, paying particular attention to buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, and gym.

Remember to register.

Finally, remember to register at the admissions office when you visit. This will ensure that each college has a permanent record of your visit, an important part of demonstrating interest.

Enjoy yourself!

The college process is already fraught with enough anxiety, so make this part as enjoyable as possible. Enjoy travelling, and have fun imagining yourself as a student at different colleges – pretty soon, you will be!

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

Summer vacation is well underway, and for many high school students, senior year is right around the corner. In just a few months, you’ll be incredibly busy with classes, homework, and college applicants. Which means that it’s more important than ever to visit prospective colleges while you still have time.

The fact that fewer students are on campus can sometimes make it harder to get a good feel for a school, but that doesn’t mean the visit isn’t worth it. In fact, if you plan effectively, there are even a few advantages. The summer is an excellent time to explore a wide variety of different colleges, and discover what’s most important to you. And if a school ends up at the top of your list, you can always plan a return trip for the fall.

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

Visiting campuses is an important step in the college admissions process.  Since you’ll be visiting in the summer, your visits can last longer. You’ll have fewer responsibilities, and will be able to extend trips for an extra day or two. This gives you time not only to see more colleges, but to tour each one in a more in-depth way. You’ll have time to stay overnight, which in turn provides opportunities to meet with professors, and explore the surrounding town (more on that below).

Visit far-away campuses.

In order to figure out which schools will fit you best, it’s important visit as many as you reasonably can – from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, located in big cities, small towns and everywhere in between. Since you don’t have to worry about missing school, you can explore campuses that are otherwise too far from home; the summer is a great time to drive or fly cross-country – even abroad! Not to mention that, if you’re already planning a vacation, you may be able to visit nearby campuses.

Personalize your tour.

There will be fewer students on campus, but fewer visitors as well. Over the summer, both tour groups and information sessions will be smaller. Take advantage of this, and ask more questions about the specific features that matter to you.

Seek out students who stayed behind.

Even though it’s summer, there will still be students on campus – you just have to try a little harder to find them.  Some will be taking classes, while others will be conducting research, interning, or working. And, luckily for you, admissions offices are generally more than happy to put you in contact with students to talk to you about life on campus. In some cases, they can even pair you with students who share your interest in particular majors, sports, or other organizations. All you have to do is ask!

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

Visit the home pages of departments you are interested in and find one or two faculty members who teach or conduct research there. Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you. You’ll be surprised how often they say yes, especially if you’re visiting during the less busy summer months. Meeting directly with faculty is a great way to find useful information about academic programs that are important to you, and to learn about the school from a unique perspective. Find out why faculty chose to teach at this particular college, and ask about the kinds of students who thrive there. In doing so, you’ll gain a deeper and more nuanced view of academic life on campus.

Hit the town.

The summer also gives you time to explore the surrounding town. In addition to checking out restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment venues, make sure to do your homework on more practical places like pharmacies, grocery stores, and bookstores. You may also want to take some time to check out potential off-campus housing, especially if a significant percentage of students choose not to live on campus.

Take notes (and pictures, too).

As you continue to visit colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each college. Take notes and pictures throughout your visit in order to keep track of the features you like (as well as those you don’t). Capture the architecture, paying particular attention to buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, and gym.

Enjoy yourself!

The college process is already fraught with enough anxiety, so make this part as enjoyable as possible. Enjoy travelling, and have fun imagining yourself as a student at different colleges – pretty soon, you will be!

Applying to UK Universities: A How-to Guide

Have you ever pictured yourself attending university in England or Scotland?  You may be surprised to learn that it’s a more attainable goal than you think.

The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  This is especially true now, since Scotland recently voted to remain within the jurisdiction of the UK!  All the universities in the UK use the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

 Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 3.43.30 PM 

Are there different categories of UK Universities?

Funny you should ask!  Universities in the United Kingdom (including England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) are typically grouped in six categories, based on their date of origin.  In the UK, age matters!  The most well-known and distinguished UK universities are considered “Ancient Universities,” founded before 1800.  These include the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge (collectively known as “Oxbridge”) and the University of St. Andrews.

Another category consists of Colleges Founded in the 19th Century, including those within the University of London and the former University of Wales.  Most of the universities in London are part of the public University of London system, founded in 1836 by Royal Charter.  London University consists of 18 constituent colleges, which operate fairly independently. Several award their own degrees, including King’s College London, London Business School, University College London and LSE. Imperial College London left the University system in 2007.

The remaining categories include colleges founded in the 20th century, such as the “Red Brick Universities,” large public universities founded in the early decades of the 20th century; and “Plate Glass Universities,” chartered after 1966.


Step 1: Become More Familiar with UK Universities

A unique and highly beneficial feature of the application process in the UK is that universities hold several Open Visit Days each year.  For example, Oxford has Open Visit Days in early July and mid-September.  For American students, you may not be considering college visits in the summer, so take note that the best time to go is during July when you are not in academic session. While typically you do not need to register for open days, advance booking may be required for some events.

Students, parents, and counselors can register in advance for a full day of scheduled presentations on admissions, financial aid, student life, and housing, as well as attend talks by professors in different “faculties,” or academic areas. It is advisable to visit at least one college, as well as a faculty talk in  your academic area of choice.  Staff are available to answer questions throughout the day.

LSE-During-Open-Visit-Day

 

UK-town-during-Open-Visit-Day

Step 2: Choose an Academic Faculty

Attending college in the UK is fundamentally different than in the United States in terms of the high degree of academic directedness.  There is no such thing as “undecided!”  Students apply to specific “faculties,” or academic departments.  English universities have a three-year, highly focused academic program in which students apply for a specific subject or interdisciplinary grouping of subjects; and, if accepted, pursue this course of study throughout the three years.  Scottish universities have four-year degrees and a hybrid system in which students study three to five subjects during the first two years, confirm their preferred concentration(s) and study only those one or two subjects throughout their final two years.

Step 3:  Learn More About the Application Process

 Students apply to all UK universities through a common application called UCAS. Students may only apply to five applications to all UK universities, including only one to Oxbridge (Oxford or Cambridge).

The UCAS application opens September 1.  The application deadlines are as follows:

  • October 15: Oxbridge, and the faculties of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science
  • January 15: Most other UK institutions
  • March 24: Art and Design programs.

Admissions decisions are provided by March 31.  Your acceptance is often contingent on achieving certain academic outcomes at the end of senior year, such as attaining certain IB and AP scores.  For students taking AP courses, final decisions are not rendered until after mid-July, when AP scores are received.

UCAS-Applicaiton-Flowchart

Step 4: Write Your Personal Statement

The personal statement for UK universities plays a vital role in the process.  Since students are considered for particular faculties, the purpose of the personal statement is to establish that you are a good fit for your designated academic area.  The essay should demonstrate why you are drawn to a particular academic area, and what you will contribute to academic life at the university.

Unlike personal statements for US universities, the focus should be exclusively academic, not personal.  As such, the essay is more similar to the US graduate school personal statement.  The UK personal statement has a maximum of 4000 characters (about the same length as the US 650 word maximum).  UK admissions officers suggest that you spend 70-75% of your Personal Statement on academic aspects, such as courses and research. The remainder could discuss outside activities, but only if they are relevant to your intended courses of study.  For example, if you wish to pursue Politics, you could discuss the evolution of your interest in politics, relevant coursework such as AP Government, as well as your involvement in Model UN or Debate Club. Regardless, make sure you always tie your experience directly to your academic and career goals.

Topics that could be relevant to include are:

  • What are your primary areas of academic interest?
  • Why do you have these interests?
  • How would study of these areas relate to your future goals?
  • What are your relevant skills and perspectives?
  • What are your relevant extra experiences, such as outside reading, activities, work and internships?

UK Admissions Officers cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do your research about the universities and the subjects offered, and proofread carefully!  Keep in mind that the same Personal Statement will be read by all the UK universities you are applying to (up to five maximum), so only include information that applies to all the colleges. For example, only discuss courses of subjects that are available at all the universities you are applying to.

To learn more about the UK’s many fine universities, check out our blogs on Oxford, St. Andrews and Cambridge. And of course, contact Collegiate Gateway – we’re always happy to help.

Collegiate Gateway Visits England!

After a decade of advising students on colleges and graduate schools in the US, Collegiate Gateway Collegiate Gateway is expanding its horizons and visiting colleges overseas – in the UK!

And so, the journey begins…gates

For the next two weeks, we’ll be reporting on our travels throughout the London metropolis and Scotland, and sharing our experiences at a variety of universities in the UK.  Whether you eventually attend a British university, or simply read about their historical approach to higher education, knowing their ideals will help you understand the roots of some of the great things about American education – from the tutorial system, in which a Professor has class with just one or two students (as replicated by Williams), to the “College” system, in which students live in smaller colleges within a larger University (as seen at Yale).

And what better time to pay homage to the British University system than during the July 4th weekend!

Our goal is to provide a feel for not only what it would be like for a student to learn here, but also to live here – to walk through the parks, enjoy the rich culture, and absorb the deep historical context of a country with traditions going back to the 10th century.  We will try to capture the unique flavor of a country that values the monarchy side-by-side with Parliament, that can guffaw at the most raucous farce and cry at the most tragic Shakespearean play, and that has as much appreciation for a pint at the pub as scones at high tea!

First stop, London!

Attention High School Juniors: How to Visit Colleges

Juniors! By now you have begun to research colleges and develop a preliminary list of schools to which you may soon be applying.  It’s now time to plan some college visits!

Here are some suggested steps to help you get started:

  1. Look up the Academic Calendar of each college to find out when the college is in session. It is far more preferable to visit colleges when students are on campus so that you can observe students in action!  You can ask yourself: Would I relate well to the students on campus?  Do I find myself reflected in these students, in terms of how they behave and talk with each other, how well they mix together, how diverse they are – even how they dress?
  2. Check the schedule for tours and information sessions. This information is available on the admissions home page. Typically, tours are led by students, and information sessions are led by admissions officers.  Find out if you need to register online in advance.
  3. Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.  Go to the home pages of departments you are interested in and look through the list of faculty members to find one or two who teach or conduct research in areas that interest you.  Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you.  You can find out useful information about academic programs and about the college environment from informal discussions with faculty members.

Once you are on campus, and have attended the tour, info session, and meetings with professors, here are additional ways you can learn about the college:

  1. Speak with students about their experiences at the college and ask them questions related to your interests.
  2. Eat in the dining hall. This not only gives you a chance to see what the food is like, but also provides an opportunity to observe students.  Would you enjoy hanging out with these students?
  3. Stay overnight with a student or in the surrounding town, if you have the time to do so.  Try to get a feel for the environment. Is the local town or city appealing to you.
  4. Take notes throughout your visit. Keep track of the features of the college that are a good match for you, as well as features that you do not feel would suit you.
  5. Take pictures.  As you continue to visit colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each college.  Taking pictures is an excellent way to help you remember what features differentiate each college.  Capture the architecture, as well as buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, gym, stadium or other places that interest you in particular.

Visiting colleges is a learning experience.  Try to visit a variety of colleges – large and small, located both in cities and in more remote areas, small liberal arts schools as well as larger research universities – so that you can decide what features are best for you.

For additional guidance and information, contact us or call 516-708-1228.

How (and Why) You Should Demonstrate Interest to Colleges

Why is it important to demonstrate interest to colleges?

“Demonstrated interest” has become increasingly important in the college admissions process over recent years.* But the importance placed on demonstrated interest varies greatly depending on the type of college. Demonstrated interest typically is more important to colleges that are private, smaller and more selective.

With increased numbers of students applying to colleges, demonstrated interest helps colleges assess the likelihood that students will:

  • Attend if admitted (yield), which helps the admissions office craft its class, and is a leading factor for US News & World Report rankings
  • Be a good fit and engage in activities on campus
  • Be loyal to the school and become an alumni donor

How can you demonstrate “informed interest” to colleges? 10-point plan!

All the colleges on your College List should be schools you would be happy to attend.  Your goal should be to demonstrate genuine “informed interest” that shows you are knowledgeable about the college’s unique features and how you would contribute to campus life.

  • VISIT the college; register in the admissions office. Many, but not all, colleges track campus visits as one of the highest measures of demonstrated interest.
  • ATTEND info sessions at your high school or local college fairs.
  • REGISTER on the undergraduate admissions website.
  • FOLLOW colleges on social media, including twitter, blogs, Facebook.
  • INTERVIEW on-campus or with an alumni interview.
  • RESEARCH the college thoroughly when you write your Supplemental Essays. Write as specifically as possible about the programs and culture of the college; and about the strengths and interests you would bring to campus.
  • THANK college officials after college visits and interviews.  Include specific topics that were meaningful to you.
  • APPLY EARLY!  Applying Early Decision or Early Action shows interest, because you are sufficiently motivated to prepare and submit your application earlier than required.
  • CONTACT the regional admissions officer after you apply by sending an occasional email if you have substantive developments to report or a genuine question that is not answered on the website.
  • CHECK your online portal for your application status.

For more information on how to evaluate your fit for colleges and demonstrate interest, contact www.collegiategateway.com.

* 2012 State of College Admissions report by NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counselors).