Choosing which Colleges to Visit: The 5-Hour Drive Limit
Nov28

Choosing which Colleges to Visit: The 5-Hour Drive Limit

Academics. Extracurriculars. Costs. Any of these are important factors to consider when deciding which college makes the list of schools to visit, but often even that is not enough –  a 5-hour drive limit can save time and money. We talked with Celeste, mom of a high school junior, about the other factors that influenced the college selection process for her son. Check out what made this family’s list, then tell us, what’s on your list of criteria? SCV: You mentioned visiting three schools with two more on the list for fall. How did you/your son decide which schools to visit? Celeste: My son is VERY interested in doing Air Force ROTC in college. (In fact, his first choice is actually the Air Force Academy.) He wants to go to a college where the ROTC program is actually on campus, which severely limits his options. My husband and I created a list for him of those schools that were within about a five-hour drive of family members on the East Coast–we can’t afford to fly him back and forth across the country and we want family members to be able to reach him if there is an emergency. SCV: Aside from ROTC and location, what were the other factors related to deciding where to visit? Celeste: My son looked at the web sites and found that most of them had programs for what he most wants to participate in for extracurriculars–cross-country and band–so that was not a deciding factor. He then looked at the acceptance rates, GPAs, SATs. The ones that were more demanding were more interesting to him because he likes a challenge. The schools that made his list were: University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Tech, Duke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) and the United States Air Force Academy (the only exception to our 5-hour drive rule). SCV: What were the visit experiences like for you/your son? Celeste: The first one was amazing, possibly because everything was new and a bit overwhelming. By the fourth one, we were tired of information sessions. Some schools, like UVA and UNC-Chapel Hill, did a great job of making it interesting and engaging. We walked away with a good sense of the school’s culture and what they stood for. Duke’s was average–it provided a good overview, but it was too long. Virginia Tech’s seemed boring–although it might have more to do with our early-morning drive there than the speaker herself, I didn’t feel I had a sense of what Tech was all about. My son felt that way about the information session as well, but he really enjoyed the tour there. The...

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From Across the Pond
Jan04

From Across the Pond

The public relations and marketing efforts by college and university admissions offices are focused on getting prospective students to visit campus. The materials, whether in print, video, or on the Web, typically address the strength of the school's academic programs, the beauty of their campus and any outstanding facilities, but is this always what an international student experiences on a campus visit? A. Richards, a high school student from England, shares his impression of his college visits to three schools in the U.S. UVA & Virginia Tech:"This past summer, I had the pleasure of visiting UVA and Virginia Tech officially with a tour guide. Both were impressive, and left me with a good attitude towards university life in the states. In both cases, it really struck me just how much of a sense of community there was. It’s something that you don’t really get in English universities. The few universities I have visited over here, such as Exeter, have a good academic background, but to me they lack the society that is so commonly seen in universities in America. It's one of the main reasons that I’m quite eager to study in the U.S., because I feel I’ll enjoy my college life more and ultimately achieve more in my studies." UNC:"I didn’t actually have an official tour of the campus, but I did, however, go to see a basketball game. That game was truly amazing, and I’ll remember it for a long time no doubt. Although, I didn’t get a good look at the campus, I could tell that there was a fantastic community in the university just from seeing the ecstatic fans at the end of the court. I came to the conclusion that if they were to become so crazed about their university, it must be something pretty special." Life on U.S. College Campuses: "In all three cases, I was more or less equally interested by the grounds themselves. I love how most American colleges are like little towns in themselves. You can tell where the university starts and where its grounds reach. My opinion may be biased when compared to that with English universities, as I haven’t see many, but from what I’ve seen, campuses basically morph into the town where they’re based and I see that as a negative because you don’t know whether you’re in that community or not." "I think that in UK colleges, University tends to be just a part of your life, whereas in America, University is your life. Perhaps that’s the reason why so many Americans pride themselves on where they studied, as they had more involvement with their university...

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