In general, visiting colleges doesn’t impact your admission, but there are two BIG exceptions. A number of institutions require an interview and in that case you’ll have to have one – in those cases the institutions are usually very up front about the requirement, and you rarely are forced to conduct them on campus, as they’ll often conduct at least some sessions in your area.
An even larger number of institutions figure that whether you visited a campus, and how often you visited, is a sign of how interested you are in the school. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of institutions look at your enthusiasm for the school. This is based on two goals – having really enthusiastic students, which tends to lead to greater success; and a desire to make the schools stats look better in the rankings game by admitting students who are most likely to accept the offer (the same theory that drive the Early Decision process – more on that another time). Of course, that same enthusiasm can, more rarely, work against you in the scholarship process – more about that soon as well.
So, how many to visit. I always tell students to get to as many as they can. The more you do, the better the idea you get about what you want out of schools. I even suggest visiting schools you KNOW you don’t want, to get a better idea of what questions you’ll want to ask when you visit the schools that interest you most. And you should ALWAYS visit before making a final decision. I know this ends up impossible for some students, but it’s hard to imagine making a decision involving where you’ll live (not to mention the cash you’re going to spend) without at least seeing the place.
Next time – how to make your visits interesting and get the most out of them. Be seeing you!
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