College visits: The first step in the college process


Chart by Olivia Goldstein

by Olivia Goldstein, Reporter

Juniors and seniors have only one topic on their minds, besides sleep: College admissions. The college process can be long and excruciating one but it does not have to be an odyssey. In September and October, college representatives come to LHS, and it’s important to take advantage of that resource.

“College visits [to high schools] are a great chance to learn general information about a college without actually having to visit,” said Mount St. Mary’s Assistant Admissions Director, Mark Wagoner.

Also College fairs are crucial. They provide insight and help prepare students when the time comes to send in applications. Schools ranging from community colleges to four year liberal art schools make their rounds to high schools every fall.

“I encourage students to attend college visits, especially the ones they haven’t heard as much about. You never know: a college that you had never considered before may actually be a fantastic fit for you. Or, the visit may help you figure out what colleges you can rule out,” said Ethan Chase, an admissions counselor at Hood College.

At college visits students are able to interact one on one with admissions officers and counselors who may be the same decision makers who later read their applications. These are the people who will help and aid students in the college process, and each counselor has a region in the country. Counselors get to know students and better asses each individual’s specific needs. Often the counselor a student works with will be the one reviewing a student’s application.

“Staying in touch with the admissions counselor can be a big help with navigating the challenging application process. This can help give students an additional advocate when it comes time for decisions to be made,” said Alexis Young, Assistant Director of University Admissions at Towson University.

Admissions counselors are well informed and it’s their job to help students with the college process. They provide contact information about their schools so students can become aware of campus visits and other facilities colleges have to offer.

“College visits [to the high school] are a great starting point, but eventually students should visit the schools they’re interested in and ask as many questions as possible,” Wagoner said.

Depending on the high school and the popularity of the college, anywhere from one student to a classroom full of students will attend. At the start of a visit, the admissions officers will inform students about general school life at their college, and later students get one on one time to have their questions answered.

“I like to have conversations with students in order to figure out what they are looking for in their college experience before I give a long presentation with information that doesn’t apply to them,” said Chase.

Many students think that all the information they could ever possibly need is online and they don’t need to attend.  This misconception can lead to poor choices and eventually, a rejection letter. Students who attend should bring notebook to write down any answers to their questions. Many of the counselors and admissions officers are alumni of the schools they represent, making them ideal for answering questions and giving the most personal answers students won’t get on the internet.

Visits can help to narrow down the search. The more colleges a student meets with, the more specific and direct he/she can be when searching for schools. Even if one school isn’t for a student it is still a useful experience in helping to figure what students want in a school and what doesn’t interest them.

“All-in-all, speaking with us never hurts, it can only help!” Chase said.

Students are starting to sign up for visits (including 18 in September). Many mope to gain reassuring information about their desired schools like finding out about courses and campus safety.

Senior Angelica Burr is graduating early. She has signed up for many visits to schools such and McDaniel and Carroll Community College. She hopes these visits will help her not only see what schools have to offer but also narrow down a major based on offered programs.

“Take it seriously,” Burr said.

Location is key for many students, including Burr. A majority of schools visiting LHS are local, within a few hours of Frederick.

Students who wish to attend see should visit Mrs.Riley in student services to see a list of schools and visitation dates and times.

Students are advised to dress appropriately to make a good impression on counselors who may eventually read their applications! Be prepared to take notes and ask lots of questions.

“Students should also make sure they have email addresses that they can provide to the counselors that will not embarrass them [for example, [email protected] doesn’t make the counselor confident about the student], the counselors will see them! During a college fair it is helpful to bring a note pad to make notes on the individual colleges,” Young said.