Ditch Those Preconceived Notions!
Imagine the green open spaces at your New York City campus...or, maybe not!
Even if you’ve never been to New York City, you probably have mental images of what it is like from movies, books, and TV. Bright lights. Big city. But going to college in New York can be surprising. Keep your mind open to the possibilities and realities when you search for campuses.
Frank Sinatra’s seminal song, “New York, New York” says, “I want to be a part of it…New York, New York….I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep.”
If this appeals to you, check out some of the urban campuses like Parson’s School of Design, City College of New York, New York University, and Pace University. These urban campuses are often hard to distinguish from the businesses nearby and are integrated into the streets and buildings that surround them. Billie Holiday and Harry Connick, Jr. sang, “New York is impossible not to love. Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds and canyons of steel are making me feel I’m home.” Some people thrive in urban settings, you’ll know when you visit if it feels right for you.
But don’t be fooled into thinking the iconic movie images of busy streets and harried workers is all that there is to the Big Apple. New York universities and colleges can be surprisingly beautiful and peaceful. Walk across the lush, green, expansive Marytrs’ Lawn on your way to visit classrooms or on your way to the ball fields at Fordham University. Fordham features two campuses, one near Lincoln Center and another in the north Bronx bordering the Botanic Gardens that lets you enjoy the classic experience of an old-style campus with ivy-covered buildings. And when you visit Columbia University, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you go from city streets to green lawns, stately buildings, and a peaceful isolation.
In “Welcome to New York City,” Cam’Ron and Jay-Z, etc. state it perfectly when they say “New York is what it is.” It might take a visit to find out if it is right for you! But make sure you visit both types of campus. This might be the perfect opportunity for a family vacation to go see the New York Yankees, see a Broadway show, tour The Cloisters, and stop in for a campus tour or two.
“Come as you are. When you leave you’ll be changed.” New York City by Among Savages.
Gail Billingsley is a world traveler and COO of Smart College Visit. She frequently writes about travel, technology, and college life.
College Travel: Make Hotel Reservations Now
visiting colleges and touring campuses are over, you may think your days of planning travel to college are over, but wait...there's still more to come!
Some key college events will be scheduled over the next 3 - 6 months. Advance planning, especially when it comes to making hotel reservations, will make things easier down the road.
Freshman or Transfer Student Orientation.
If your student has accepted an offer of admission and will enroll this fall, you've probably already received information about college orientation. Some colleges will host new student orientation during the summer. If you haven't made arrangements for lodging, now is the time. Check your orientation information, students (and even parents) may be given the option of spending the night in a dorm, but if you choose to book a hotel room instead, do it as soon as possible.
The countdown to freshman move-in has begun. If your drive time to campus is over four hours, then you may want to arrive the day before move-in begins so you can get a fresh start on move-in morning.
Many colleges host Parents Weekend during late September or October. It's likely the dates for this event are already set and have been logged on the campus event calendar found on the college web site. Even if you have not received your invitation, search the college's web site or call the Office of Student Affairs/Dean of Students Office to confirm the date and let the travel planning begin!
Football/Fall Athletic Events.
If attending an athletic event at your student's college is on your list of things to do this fall, then booking a hotel room when you buy your event tickets is always a good idea. Depending on the size of the school and popularity of the program and location, it may already be too late to find a hotel close to campus! Try searching for a hotel in a neighboring town or explore alternative lodging options such as Airbnb, Craigslist, HomeAway or VRBO.
You can plan travel to your student's campus using Smart College Visit's college search tool. We provide all the travel logistics you need: access directions to campus, search hotels, book flights, and plan all your college travel from now through graduation (yet another countdown to look forward to!). Search our blog for travel planning tips such as your travel bill of rights or to plan travel using our concierge service.
Declare a Major or Apply Undecided?
Make the most of any campus visit and explore the many college majors you can choose. Ask questions about program requirements, internships, and applying undecided. It's okay to take time freshman year to decide on the major that's right for you.
5 Tips for High School Students Interested in an Arts College
Attending an art and design college is just like attending any other institution of higher learning: it is learning about what you love and how you can turn what you love into a career after you graduate.
Here are 5 key tips for the high school student interested in an art and design college in the college exploration process.
1. Be objective about your abilities and what you’ll present in your portfolio.
If every student that applied to an art and design college were the best at their craft then why would they need to attend school? The reality is, like within any field, there is always more to learn and the time to refine what is already known.
Mom and Dad may think your skills are great, you may think you’re great and you honestly might just be great…but know that when schools are reviewing your work they are looking for your potential. Consider what you present in four areas:
- Technique: How well you handle whatever media you decide to work with.
- Concept: Choose artwork that communications your ideas.
- Risk-taking: Get out of your comfort zone.
- Dedication: Time and effort should be evident.
Being objective may be hard and that is why asking for feedback and input from art educators at high school or at the colleges which a student is exploring is critical—and strongly encouraged.
Check out these portfolio building tools: Portfolio Development.
2. Think about possible career opportunities now.
You might want to major in illustration, but that doesn’t mean you can only be a cartoonist at a newspaper. You may just end up doing illustration for an urban planning company. Focus in a future career field is wonderful, but thinking bigger and differently will enable you to ask more. And most of you will be working in careers that are still evolving with new technologies.
3. Don’t be shy, network with alumni.
Once you’ve narrowed down your college selection, ask the admissions office to share with you where alumni are working and how they are using their degrees. Most college’s web sites will feature alumni profiles.
4. Take the college for a test drive.
Look for summer programs that give you an opportunity to live and work on a campus for a week or even longer. You’ll get a feel for the city, the campus and the faculty.
5. Think outside the box.
Creative students should be creative in the college exploration process. There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States; schools of art and design are about 10 percent of that total.
That means there is more than one school that will be just right for you. The school down the road from home is a great place to start doing your exploration if it has the programs you believe you are interested, but don’t forget to consider the over 400 more options out there that may just be the best place to spend your college years studying and creating.
Densil R. R. Porteous II is the Director of Admissions for Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD). Prior to joining CCAD he was an assistant dean of admission for marketing and outreach at Stanford University and an associate dean/director of college counseling at the Drew School in San Francisco. He is a graduate of Kenyon College.
For information about planning a visit to CCAD including directions and a list of hotels near campus, visit the Columbus College of Art and Design profile on Smart College Visit.
College Choice: Who is more satisfied--Parents or Teens?
How does this college preference data compare with your household? What's the student-parent satisfaction level when it comes to the college choices you've made? The following infographic is provided courtesy of BrainTrack.com.
Tips for Making a College Admission Video with your Webcam
One of the best ways to learn what makes a video dynamic is to examine other students’ work. The following examples show how much you can do with very little, and that what matters is a strong idea and the “message” you deliver - not fancy camera work or slick production values.
This applicant shot her comic - and character-revealing - rap in exactly 57 seconds. Her video needed no sound track or editing. When she pushed “stop” her movie was “in the can.” Despite being “bare bones,” it does a great job of conveying who she is as a person. She demonstrates guts, a can-do attitude, and a sense of humor about herself.
WEBCAM TALENT DISPLAY
This playful, virtuoso musical demo was also shot in one room. The applicant cuts to himself playing one instrument after the next - ukulele, trumpet, violin, guitar, flute, maracas, rain stick - as he builds his soundtrack bit by bit. The video shows his passion for music, but it’s more than just a talent display - he also communicates a quirky, droll sensibility.
This slightly more complex video was also shot in one place, in one session. The footage is augmented with still photos and video of a stage performance. Notice the brisk pacing, and the effective use of “jump” cuts which illustrates an important tip: if you choke, fail, or flub, just keep talking, and later on cut out the bad parts.
Neither technophobia, a busy schedule, or a tight budget should stand in your way if you want to make a video essay. Give your subject some thought, but once you’ve nailed down your idea, you can go to the privacy of your room and produce, direct and star in your own magnum opus.
Max Kiefer and Rosa Wolfe are filmmakers and authors of How to Make a Winning College Application Video Essay: Everything You Need to Know from Idea to Upload. Their website www.ThisIsMeVideo.com is a place where students can learn about making application videos.
College Admissions: Setting the Right Expectations
Tonight on #CampusChat: Setting the Right Expectations for College - 9PM ET
From the time we are children many of us are asked the proverbial question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And, we are often told "You can be anything you want to be" which is often preceded by or sometimes followed by "work hard" or "study hard." Suzy Lee Weiss did work hard and study hard and believed that she could get accepted into an Ivy League school. Apparently, things did not go the way Suzy expected. Were her expectations wrong? With Harvard's 7% acceptance rate from a pool of 26,000 applications, should someone have advised her she could be a long shot at best? What is the best advice for college-bound teens when it comes to aiming high.
How do we as parents, teachers, guidance counselors help them set realistic expectations. Should we? We'll discuss this topic tonight on #CampusChat on Twitter at 9PM ET. It's open mic! Follow @collegevisit and #CampusChat and join us!
Suzy Lee Weiss on NBC's Today Show:
What do you think? Did colleges lie to Suzy? Were her expectations wrong?
Top 5 College Fair Tips
College Fairs are typically regional events where students from nearby high schools converge for the opportunity to meet admissions counselors from colleges already on their lists or to explore colleges they'd like know more about.
Hosted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), it's a great time to gain exposure to hundreds of colleges at once. Our best advice: Go Prepared.
Here are our tips for getting the most from your college fair experience:
Top 5 College Fair Tips:
- REGISTER IN ADVANCE: Follow the links on the college fair schedule to find the event closest to you. Then, click on the link for that fair to view the list of participating colleges. Decide which colleges you know you want to meet and go ahead and register in advance. This puts you on their radar and saves you valuable time since you won't have to stop to fill out an info card when you stop by their booth or table.
- BRING LABELS: If you don't have time to scan the list of colleges prior to the event, you can still save time by printing a batch of name/address labels. This way, you can easily get your name on a contact list so the admissions representative can follow up once the fair is over. Your label, which shouldn't be larger than 3" x 2", should contain your full name, mailing address, phone, and e-mail.
- DON'T FORGET YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE: Some schools have scanners that can read the contact info from your license. This is the ultimate time-saver.
- BRING QUESTIONS: Have a list of questions that you want to ask each college rep. If you are not sure what to ask, check out the College Fair Check List published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
- TAKE NOTE: College fairs are busy and face-paced. To make it easy to remember who's who and which colleges you like, snap a photo with your cell-phone of each college info table for the schools you want to remember. If you don't have a phone, bring some sticky notes and write yourself a note, then apply the sticky note to a brochure or any literature from that school. Once you're back home, you'll find it easy to sort through the many brochures you picked up while at the fair.
For more information about preparing for college, visit our College Admissions resource section. You can also explore colleges here on Smart College Visit, access information about each school on your list, and make plans to visit the colleges that interest you. Click here for the complete spring and fall National College Fair Schedule.
The Secret Life of a Stealth Applicant
Stealth applicants are one of the best kept secrets in college admissions. In fact, stealth applicants are so off the radar that even the students don't even realize that they are a secret.
According to Helen Williams, associate director for marketing & communications and admissions at Clark University, in Worcester, Mass., a stealth applicant is someone who applies without having direct contact with the Admissions Office. With stealth applicants accounting for just under half of Clark’s applicant pool, she sees the phenomenon as on the rise.
For some colleges and universities, this group of college stalkers-turned-applicants represents a bonus pool of prospects, for others, stealth applicants are vying for a seat in a class without ever being invited or making themselves known to the college and that can be a “no-no” especially when the stealth applicant’s application is under review.
In today’s high-tech, on-demand, online world of click-touch-swipe, this cadre of college-bound teens see themselves as web-savvy college researchers navigating the path to their academic futures. Some college admissions officers, however, see them differently.
Kevin Williams, dean of admissions at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., emphasizes the importance of the relationship between the applicant and the admissions committee: “At Morehouse, we take a very holistic approach in the evaluation of our applicants. The more we know about prospective students besides their academic profile, the better decisions we can make about our school being a good fit for that prospective student.”
By tradition, applicants are expected to make themselves known during the college search process. Whether by completing a reply card, attending an open house or info session, going on a campus tour, requesting information through the college’s website, or speaking with alum, initiating a relationship with the college can make a difference.
At Morehouse, the failure to demonstrate interest or make yourself known prior to applying can be a downside. According to Dean Williams, “Stealth applicants generally do not get the opportunity to establish personal contacts and build relationships with us, which could prove to be important when reviewing an application, especially a borderline one."
From web sites to YouTube videos to Facebook, there are many ways a prospective student can research, explore or vet colleges without making their identities known to the college. For some students, this approach is intentional as a way to keep their names off mailing lists.
Dean Williams suggests that if the goal is avoid being inundated with email or printed college materials, then simply ask the admissions office not send you everything they mail out. “The last thing an institution wants is for prospective students to be turned off and lose interest because of over-communication in a very impersonal way and not honoring their request to limit communications to them.”
Advice for the (Stealth) College-bound Teen
Colleges want to enroll students who want to be there, and taking the time to be in touch through official channels can make a difference in determining the best fit. Whether you consider yourself a college-stalker or a savvy researcher doing your homework on a particular school, you may want to reach out on a more personal level and make your interest known to the school.
Register for a campus visit, meet with a college rep at your high school or college fair, or simply get your name added to an interest list. The initiative you take to move your research out of the virtual world and into the real world may open the door to making even better decisions about where to apply and, for the colleges, who to admit. After all, it’s no secret that a college is more than web site.
College Admission Interview Tips
Knowing many students will be going on college and scholarship interviews in the coming months, we thought it best to repost our tips on how to prepare. And, we have one important tip to add: Silence Your Cell Phone!
Do we have to say it? Yes. Never go to an interview with your cell phone ringer turned on or leave your phone on vibrate. During an interview, you don't want the distraction and neither does the interviewer. Read on for more tips on how to prepare and participate in an interview.
What should students focus on when preparing for a college interview?
A few interview tips:
- The first FOUR minutes of the interview usually sets the tone. Get it right at the start, and it can go well.
- Have questions of your own, and make sure they are not obvious factual ones.
- Dress informally so you are comfortable, but not too informally (avoid jeans or flip-flops).
- Be punctual.
- There are no trick questions coming up; this is not an interrogation. Interviewers want to engage you in conversation - and - yes, they want you to be comfortable.
- Don't talk too much. Catch yourself and stop. Think internally for a few seconds before responding to questions.
- Remain conscious of your body language and don't play with your hair or you're your nails - You may be nervous - but don't act it.
- Have thoughts about the last book that you liked; the last film, favorite website, magazines you read and tell the truth. Students should be able to articulate what it is about them that makes them a good fit with that particular school.
Also, be prepared to speak intelligently about what you've done for/in any groups in which you participate. If you have time, a thank-you note (or email) is appropriate! Bring a resume in case it's requested.
The #1 thing I advise students about is to be prepared to thoughtfully discuss their academic preparation and achievement record.
Jeannie is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (ICEA).
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