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Manners' College Primer, Issue #001
February 20, 2015

Gain an Edge on College Visits

Touring college campuses is more than just an opportunity to learn about colleges and choose your favorites. It is also a chance to gain an edge when you apply and increase the chances of getting into the best school.

Most students and their parents simply take the garden-variety tour, but the more enterprising also sit in on classes, meet professors, schedule interviews, and generally engage with the community. They also read up on the school beforehand, and formulate a set of questions about it.

While there, take copious notes and pictures. Jot down initial impressions as well as specifics. What do you like about the school and what makes it feel like a good match for you? This will not only help you decide where to apply, but also provide the kinds of details admissions officers will look for in your application supplements and interviews.

Imagine you are a student. If you sit in on a class and the professor says something that impresses you, write it down and mention it in your application. Leave time to poke around on your own. What are students up to? Are they studying furiously? Engaged in activities? How is the energy? How prevalent is Greek Life?

Have a meal on campus, and talk to the students. Read bulletin boards and be sure to pick up a copy of the school newspaper. Meet with coaches, or the head of club teams – visit the theater, music or art studios. Stop in at career services. Is there a strong alumni network?

Is the school a keeper? If you feel a connection with a school, put it on the list. Yes, you should be excited! If you are not, keep looking – you will find the schools of your dreams, and the more engaged you are when you visit, the better your chances of being admitted.

Beth Manners specializes in college admissions counseling. Call for a complimentary session (203-454-4543) or email

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