Campus admission visit fun part 2

In a recent post I suggested that campus visits can be fun, and that one way to try to achieve a level of enjoyment is to play a game I call “Make the admissions officer cry”.  An important disclaimer  – I do not in any way recommend you in any way harm an admissions officer, even if you can get away with it.  Bear in mind that the same perky individual that rattles off all that data will likely soon be reading your application, or at least sitting in the committee that reviews it, so behave accordingly.  Also, you might check out the prior post about things NOT to do at a campus visit.  My favorite is wearing another schools sweatshirt, which somehow fails to fill me with warm fuzzy feelings about admitting an applicant.

But enough about me, what about you?  You’re sitting there, listed to such fascinating facts as how many square acres the campus has, how many books there are in the library, the faculty to student ratio, and the percent of graduates with jobs or grad school in their field of choice.  You might be wondering, what does all that mean to me?

Not much.

You might it fun to ask some better questions, such as what’s the average walk time between classes (can you even walk, or does it require some kind of futuristic and not yet invented teleportation device to actually get from building A to building Z on time?).  How accessible is the library materials online, and what is my access like across campus?  How many students are likely to be in my freshman classes, what’s considered a large class, and how many large classes am I likely to have?

Basically, admissions repres are trained to spill out numbers that sound good.  As a result, any recent rankings that make us look good will be emphasized (we are regularly rated the best smelling campus in the nation!) while weak rankings will be skipped entirely (really?  I hadn’t heard that Teen Vogue voted us the least likely to be given a cameo on Gossip Girl).  Faculty ratio always comes up since it’s usually lower than class size, especially for freshmen.  Books in the library is one of my favorites – a nice thing to know, but in an area of online access and inter-library loans, likely not a deal maker or breaker for undergraduates.

My favorite is the bit about what students after they graduate – and this is a key opportunity to “innocently” elicit tears.  Most schools survey their grads, and of course the grads that write back about their activities tend to be the most successful.  Let’s face it, after four years of tuition and work the “fry guy” probably isn’t returning too many surveys for the ole alma mater.  As a result, most institutions end up with only a fraction of grads reporting back, and those being the most successful and happy, but the schools tend to report as a percent of the whole.  So the representative smiles and says, “99.99 percent of our graduates go on the graduate school or job of their first choice.”  You respond, “How do you know?”  They, still smiling, answer, “We survey them.”  “Really,” says you in an oh so innocent voice, “and how many of your graduates respond?”

“Um, I’m not sure.”  “Well have you seen the survey?”  “mmm, no not really.”  “Can I see the survey?”  That is usually when you get the tears, and then you WIN!!!  I admit, I’ve yet to make anyone cry with this tactic, but maybe you can be the first…

The point is, don’t just take all those numbers at face value.  And try to make your visits fun.  Also, Mason has an amazing rate of students going on to the job and graduate school of their first choice.  Be seeing you. 


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