Make your admissions campus visit fun?

Are you dreading your campus visits?  Or worse, have you already gone on a few and learned the dreaded secret…that most of those so-called “admissions counselors” sound an awful lot like salespeople, and worse yet say almost exactly the SAME THING at EVERY CAMPUS???  You know, “Our school treats you like a PERSON, not a number, and you will graduate quickly, and we have tons of internships and jobs are plentiful.  Also, it never rains here when you want to go outside, and the book you are looking for magically appears in your hand when you say the word library.  Also, our president is just like Dumbledore, except still alive.  We think.”

And then you meet the tour guide, who is an unpaid student.  Also TOTALLY LOVES this school and JUST KNOWS that YOU WILL TOO!!! 

After that, you may be wondering how you find out which campus is really right for you in all that propaganda, how you make a visit interesting, and why I find it necessary to USE CAPITALS TO MAKE MY POINT.  Allow me to help:

Admissions officers sound the same because, big surprise coming…colleges really aren’t all THAT different.  Higher education has spent the past few decades figuring out how to better educate you, give you a better personal growth experience, and connect you with success (yet we still haven’t figured out why cafeteria food always tastes the same…more research needed!).  What you should be doing is tryting to find those few things that will help you connect with a particular school.

Making a list of things you think you want may help.  As you visit campuses, you can add or subtract from your list as you find things out that sound cool (an indoor luge? YES!) or that sound awful (500 people share this one potty?  Not so much.).  Then, as I’ve said before, you’ll want to visit as many schools as possible.  If this sounds MISERABLE, you need to find a way to make it fun.  I suggest making it into a game.  I like to call it, “make the admissions counselor cry.”

I suggested this in a speech at a college fair a few years ago and a very nice (and by nice I mean crazy uptight) admissions officer from a rival school (that will remain unamed but is here in VA and not nearly as fun as Mason) came up and unloaded about how totally unprofessional it is that I would totally mislead students by totally making this into a game.  Totally.  Her words, not mine, but I think the use of “totally” gave her some credibility, so in fairness – this is NOT a game, it’s about your future.  Stop smiling, get serious.  Also, drugs are bad.

That being said, you can manage to squeeze some fun out of your visits.  My belief is that you should try to stump the admissions counselor.  This becomes way too easy if you toss out questions in, say, quantum physics.  Instead, you need to restrict yourself to college relevant questions.  My favorite is, “What is the worst thing about your school.”  Often catches them like a deer in the headlights.  Go with friends and see who gets the most tears.  It’s fun for the whole family (unless your family are all admissions officers).

Next time – a bit on making them cry harder when they try to pump you full of meaningless statistics.  Also, maybe a glimpse into why I use so many capital letters.  Maybe not.  Be seeing you.


4 Responses

  1. What’s the worst thing about Mason then? 🙂

    This is random but, does Mason offer scholarships for room & board as well as tuition? It’s just one of those things I’ve been wondering.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. I think the only down side is when students come expect either a city school or one in middle of rural Virginia. Mason has a gorgeous campus, in the middle of all the DC region has to offer, but not right downtown, and not way out in the country. Some visitors complain that theres way too much going on (too distracting for college), while another was upset at not being “right in the middle of the noise and traffic.” So I guess it depends what each student really wants.

    Those, by the way, are what we call non-answers or spin answers. Much better than a deer in the headlights, right?

    Our largest scholarships, the University Scholars, go a bit above tuition. In addition, unlike some of our competitors we don’t reduce your grant funds if you receive scholarships, so depending on what other funds you receive it is possible to use scholarships for room and board, but we don’t have them targeted specifically for that purpose.

  3. Makes it good for a student who wants a happy medium then I suppose.

    That’s good to hear, about the scholarship, and I have another question with that (sorry for asking so many, but you always answer so promptly). On the site, it says you need a teacher recommendation and essay, so I was wondering if that means a general teacher recommendation or there’s a form that will be available if eligible.

    That part’s just tripping me up since I saw that and went, “Oh no, was I supposed to have included a teacher recommendation in my application?”

  4. Teacher recommendations can be submitted through our nifty online system once you apply – since we are SO tech savvy. You can submit it anytime before the deadline. Many come in on paper (if so, PLEASE add your student number, no matter where you are applying), but it is MUCH easier to match up the online version.

    Good luck!

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