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You're waiting to hear back, visiting colleges that may reject you, hoping your mid-year report was good enough, and listening to teachers tell you that your grades are just as important second semester as they were first.

Here are some tips for making the most of your college visits:

Do

Come prepared with a few  questions the website didn’t answer. This means do your research...don’t ask if Columbia has a Core Curriculum.  

Sample some dining hall food. You may be stuck with it for four years. Pro-tip: As a prospie you and your family can pay to eat at John Jay, Ferris, or Hewitt.

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Ask for your tour guide’s contact information to ask any remaining questions you have. Make sure to check the weather and be prepared clothing wise.  

Take notes - it can be hard to remember every important distinguishing detail about each school, especially if you're touring multiple schools in a weekend or even on the same day.

Keep an open mind - remember that a seeing a school in person for the first time may be different than looking at pretty pictures of Butler in glossy catalogues.

Talk to current students - it can seem intimidating at first, but you can start with something as simple as asking for directions. Often admissions officers and tour guides want to present their school in the best possible light, but students tend to be more honest about things such as how good the dining hall food actually tastes.

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Look at current bulletins and what's being posted on them. This will help you get a better sense of what actual students are interested and involved in.

Don’t

Assume your tour guide is representative of what every student at that school is like. Columbia has a diverse student body (socially, politically, economically, racially), located in one of the most diverse locations a college could be in. As a result there is no “typical” Columbia student (which is probably a good thing because stereotypes are boring).

Expect the school to feel exactly the way it was described in the Fiske Guide To Colleges.  

Get your heart set on one school and dismiss other colleges.You’d be surprised which one ends of working as the best fit for you in the end.  

Schedule all your tours in the same week or month - you will become exhausted and overwhelmed.

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Wait to visit all the schools you've applied to until be accepted - although this may seem like you're saving time in the moment (and the possibility of falling in love with a school that doesn't accept you), you will just have more work to do in the spring and will make your decision harder to make.

Visit 30 schools. As someone who toured 24 colleges to be exact, I can tell you that the admissions sessions and tours start to drag on and blend into one another. Aim to see several prototypes of different kinds of schools: a big state school, a small rural liberal arts school, a private research university, etc.

 

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