How to Approach College Visits to RVGS
Prepare your students to meet with visiting reps
Every fall, representatives from college admission offices visit high schools around the country to present informational programs to prospective students, their parents, and counselors. What is your role during these visits, and how can you help your students get the most out of talking to college representatives?
Benefits of college rep visits for students
Explain to your students that, during their visits, reps meet with interested students in small groups to discuss topics like the academic programs, campus life, financial aid programs, and admission procedures of their college. They will also answer students' questions (you may want to print out Questions to Ask College Representatives and distribute it to students).
With so much information already available to students on college websites, in college catalogs, and elsewhere, your students may wonder why they should attend these in-person sessions. Below are six reasons to encourage students to meet with college reps.
- Students have a chance—in their own hometown—to meet face to face with a representative from the college and to ask specific questions.
- Students can let the college know they are seriously interested.
- Since in many cases, the reps are admission officers from the college, students have a unique opportunity to make contact with a person who may be evaluating their application in the future.
- The meeting provides students with a specific contact at the college to whom they can send questions.
- Sometimes reps, particularly ones from state universities, will give an early read on students' transcripts, test scores, course selections, and so on during their visits, which helps students assess their fit at that institution and figure out what they can do to improve their chances of getting in.
- It's an opportunity for you, as a counselor, to bring to a student's attention a school that you think is a good fit but that he or she may not have considered.
Who should attend the college rep presentations?
Some schools permit only juniors and seniors to meet with the reps. On the other hand, "We encourage sophomores and juniors to participate for long-range planning," says Dr. Bill Yarwood, director of guidance at Moorestown High School in New Jersey. "Too often students don't focus on college until fall of senior year when they have so much else to do."
Since many districts have strict policies about releasing students from instructional time, Yarwood advises that schools find ways to include visits that don't disrupt the school day. In some districts college visits are scheduled for the last period of the day. Or reps may be set up in the cafeteria so students can meet with them during lunch or free periods.
College-rep visits provide ideal opportunities for counselors to learn more about schools. Although it may be unrealistic to expect counselors in large public high schools to attend every session, sitting in on as many as possible enables a counselor to provide students with information they missed or didn't understand during the visit. If students at a session are shy, you can ease the tension by asking a few questions to get the discussion going. And later, you can help students distinguish between marketing hype and useful facts.
Additionally, you or another counselor should be available to greet the college rep when he or she arrives. A friendly, interested counselor will leave a lasting impression.
Be sure to get copies of recent materials from the rep to update your files. And make sure all college reps receive these items from you:
- A fact sheet with useful statistics about your school
- Your business card
- Directions to other local high schools
Parents can learn more about colleges that their children are considering. Some parents play a very influential role in the final decision a student makes about college. College-rep visits allow parents to ask questions and gather additional information that will enable them to make educated decisions together with their child.
Benefits of college rep visits for colleges
Colleges have reasons for sending representatives to high schools beyond simply advertising to prospective applicants. The visiting representative has a chance to evaluate the high school and see if its students will fit in at the college.
Another reason has to do with the somewhat controversial admissions practice of assessing "demonstrated interest," in which admissions officers judge which students are most interested in attending their college, and admit applicants partially on that basis. This is one way to increase a college's yield (the number of students accepted by a school who actually enroll) and thereby gain a higher ranking on some scales.