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.
Smart Q & A: Should I Visit Colleges During Summer?
With the majority of students gone, should I even bother visiting campus during summer?
While it's true that there's a different vibe on campus during the summer months, summer college visits are a great way to narrow down your list of preferred colleges, work in a campus visit while on vacation, and let the slower pace on campus work to your advantage.
Here are some ways to make summer visits work for you:
- Schedule a visit in advance. If you know when you'll be available to visit campus, sign up in advance for the campus tour and/or information session. Check the college's web site to see if tours or session times change during the summer.
- Make an impromptu visit. Cruising down the interstate and see a sign for "College X?" Take the exit and follow the signs to campus. A drive-through visit will, at the very least, give you a sense of place. Better yet, get out of the car, walk around, and snap some photos. If you like what you see, drop by the admissions office to acquainted and learn more about what the school has to offer.
- Attend a summer preview day or summer open house program. Formal campus visit programs will require advance registration and will offer at least a half day of scheduled events. It's a great way to get a lot out of your time on campus and get a lot of questions answered in one fell swoop.
- Make it your own. One advantage of a summer campus visit is that the pace on campus can be bit a slower. Make this work for you and request to meet with an admissions representative one-on-one. Sometimes making a personal connection on campus makes all the difference in how you see the college.
Once you're on campus make the most of your college visit by asking questions and by talking with other students. Don't be afraid to "ask the natives" what they like or don't like about their college. Be sure to take notes and photos so you'll be able to recall the experience when it comes to time to choose where to apply.
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.
Smart College Visit Announces Partnership with Martin Travel
May 10, 2013. Smart College Visit announced today a partnership with Martin Travel to provide an added level of service: full "concierge" travel planning for college-bound families who need extra help nailing down the travel logistics of their campus visits.
The combination of the the campus visit information that SCV provides and the travel expertise of Martin Travel will provide a new dimension of "executive level travel planning" for those who want to leave the travel details in an expert's hands.
Martin Travel serves customers nationwide from offices in southwest Virginia. The agency was founded in 1978 and was acquired by AAA Mid-Atlantic in 2008.
Smart College Visit, founded in 2010, makes it easy for college-bound teens and their parents to search for colleges, navigate the college admissions process and plan all their campus travel. Smart College Visit's "concierge" service is available with the click of a button on SmartCollegeVisit.com.
What Do You Want in a Hotel on your College Visit?
What's most important to you when booking a hotel for a campus visit?
Location? Amenities? WiFi? We want to know!
Golf & Campus Visits: Of Course
When planning college tours, make time for a round of golf with the family.
You'll find award-winning collegiate golf courses throughout the country!
Let's check out 8 holes...
High School Juniors: Plan Now for Spring Break College Visits
This year, Easter falls on March 31, 2013. Colleges and universities have been busy planning programs that go by names such as: Spring Open House or Junior Preview Day. You should plan, too!
Tips for Planning Spring Break College Visits
- Decide which colleges to visit and register for the day you plan be on that particular campus.
- Plan on spending at least a half a day on each campus you visit, and know that some programs may structured with a full day of activity planned.
- Search for hotels near campus and book your room now. The closer the date of your visit gets, the more likely hotels will fill up.
- If you're flying, book your flights now and allow enough leeway in your travel schedule for delays (it seems inevitable that there will be delays related to flying, so plan for it as much as possible).
- To save money on travel, create a bundled travel package by booking hotel and flight together.
Tips for Going on Your College Visit
- Go prepared with a list of questions (See our campus visit question guide for suggestions about what to ask when you visit campus.)
- Evaluate each visit using the same criteria and make notes of what stands out, who you meet and what you like or don't like. (Download our SCV Campus Visit Evaluation Form. Print or copy as many as you need. You may want to keep a few in your car's glove box to have on hand.)
- Have a family member take a photo of you at the entrance to each college. Even though this may sound corny now, later, when you're reviewing where you've been, the photo will trigger memories about your visit that you may not have jotted down on the evaluation form.
- Most importantly, talk with other students and faculty. Ask what they like and don't like or what they would change about their school if they could.
If you'd like to share your campus visit story with us, go to our Share Your Story form. We'll follow up about publishing your guest post on SCV.
The Smart College Visit Team
College Visits: Drive-through, Walk-in or Registered
SmartCollegeVisit), it's pretty clear that we are huge fans of visiting colleges. The question we are asked most often is "When should I visit?" Some times this question is referring to the age a child should be when visiting colleges; other times, it refers to what year in high school or what time of year is best.
Regardless of the intent, there is no absolute right answer to the question as there are many options for incorporating campus visits into your life.
Drive-through Campus Visits - perfect for any age
On the way to grandma's house? Out for an afternoon drive? Or, on a business trip? If you see a road sign for a college along the way, why not take a scenic drive through the campus? In general, college campuses are well maintained, beautiful places to visit with interesting histories and architecture. At the very least, you'll leave knowing more than had you driven by instead of through campus.
Walk-in Campus Visit - restrictions may apply
A "Walk-in" is considered someone who has not registered for a scheduled campus tour or information session and shows up unexpected. Many colleges have an open door policy and welcome or expect walk-ins. However, there are a growing number of colleges and universities with structured campus tours and information session hours restrictions related with limited seating for registered visitors only. This does not mean these schools are unfriendly. Just the opposite, they want their guests to be as comfortable as possible when visiting campus and, in order to do so, they require registration so planning can take place.
Does this mean you should never be a "walk-in" on a college visit? No, but it won't hurt to call ahead or search the school's web site to learn whether or not registration is required or to find out if there is a self-guided tour available for download via the web or for your smartphone. At the very least, the admissions office or visitor center should have a campus map avaialble if you can't pariticate in a formal tour.
Registerd Campus Visitor - preferred by most
Registering in advance gives you an advantage over the other campus visit options in that you've secured a seat, you're in the "system" (meaning, you'll be in the loop to receive a visit confirmation, agendas, updates or changes, etc.) and you can begin making travel plans and deciding which questions you want answered during your visit.
Campus visit planning tip: create an email address that the teen and parents will share access to and that is just used for college search. Everyone will appreciate being in the loop and it's less likely that important information about your visit will get missed.
So, what kind of campus visitor will you be?
Top 75 College Destinations for 2012-2013
Smart Phone & Web Apps for Organizing
So much to do, so little time - we all feel that way, right? And, if you're entrenched in college-search, then there's the added task of keeping track of additional important information (read: test dates, college visits, and application deadlines). The good news is that there's a variety of smart phone and web apps to help you focus and keep track of everything. We compiled the list below from a recent #CampusChat on organizing high school students during the college admissions process:
Do it Tomorrow
iPhone, Android | Free
iPad | $4.99
Focus Booster App (requires Adobe Air)
Web | Free
Dropkick - a "to do" list app
iPhone | $1.99
iPad | $2.99
Mac | $4.99
SKOACH - task manager and scheduling tool
Web | 1-month $15 | 3-months $36 every 3 months | 6-month $54 every 6 months
Jorte app - calendar app
Android | Free
Evernote - an easy way to remeber everything
iPhone | Android | Windows Phone | Blackberry | Web OS | Free for all listed
Web | Free
SelfControl - a web site blocker to help you avoid distracting websites
Mac | Free
Leslie Josel (@orderoochaos), professional organizer and founder of Order Out of Chaos contributed to this list. Also recommended: College Application Organizing Tips for Tackling Senior Year.