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    #242462 - 04/29/18 01:24 PM College information sessions
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    I have a son in 10th grade. There are many colleges hosting "information sessions" in our area. Has anyone found such sessions useful? What did you learn that was not on the web site of the college? Some colleges visit our high school, so my son can attend those sessions, but I wonder if we should make an effort to attend sessions not at school.

    Attending an information session is a way of showing interest, but I wonder if that matters much for the most selective schools, since they know that applicants are interested.

    #242463 - 04/29/18 02:13 PM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    cricket3 Offline

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 665
    I think this answer will vary significantly depending upon which schools your son is interested in. I think most of the hard, factual information can be learned from websites; again, depending upon your needs, that may be sufficient. We ended up making a spreadsheet to help compare the factors that were the most important to our DD, and all of that is easier done with the computer imo.

    We did attend one group info session hosted at a hotel; the students were all invited (suspect strongly it was based upon PSAT scores). There were 6-7 colleges of similar type whose reps clearly travel together and host the same session throughout their regional areas. The session was attended early in the process for us, and gave a general overview for our DD- it was probably most useful from our perspective in getting her thinking more about what general factors were important to her (she already knew she wanted a liberal arts school, so specific, unusual majors and things like that were not a factor).

    It was also an opportunity to speak one on one with the regional representatives from schools. (I underestimated this- at the school DD will be attending, this regional rep clearly knew her and her application, and made a point of sending her personal notes, met her when the rep came to the high school for a visit and looked for her when DD attended the collegeís visiting student days. During the visit she ran into DD at several functions and made a point of introducing her to people she knew had shared interests.) Also, kids can leave their name/info with the reps, which is part of the ďdemonstrating interestĒ BS that some schools value.

    We ended up not attending the large college fairs that are co-sponsored by several high schools in our area, but only because most of the schools that participated were not top choices for our DD and we could find the information elsewhere, but again, it is an opportunity for the student to make a personal connection with someone from the college. Itís also probably a good way for a kid early in the process to start making general lists about types of schools and what they are looking for.

    Our high school also hosts college reps who do visits throughout the year. Many kids go to these to get out of class, honestly, but if the kid has any interest, itís probably worth attending. DD went to one for a school she was uncertain about applying to, and ended up applying after having an in-depth talk with the rep. Of note, her counselor also sat in the meeting (DD was the only kid who atttended!) and she ended up being offered a large scholarship there. Itís clear the regional rep remembered her and the visit. She also met for the second time the rep from the school sheís attending, and sounds like she made a good impression then with questions.

    Regarding the demonstrated interest bit, I am pretty sure that you can find this information out about most schools (for example, several ivies, u Chicago and others clearly state that demonstrated interest does not affect their admissions, as they understand the financial burdens of visiting and are trying to level the playing field). Other schools, we have since learned, pay lots of attention to it (Swarthmore, Wash U. In St.Loius, come to mind) but I would look into it for each college your ds is considering. We figured this part out late in the game, but if your kid is serious about a school that values it, I would attempt to do it (ie, do the visit, make sure they know you were there, donít just self-tour, but visit the admissions office and leave your kidís info with someone). Our DD did send emails to various people, from both an academic interest standpoint, as well as extracurricular (orchestra and music-related activities which are very important to her) but more of this occurred after she was accepted and trying to decide between schools. Still, it is another way for the kid to demonstrate interest and make connections.

    As far as most selective schools knowing kids are interested, I would not bet on it. We heard from admissions directors at several schools that the most important part of the essay is to remember that Cornell (or insert any number of school names here) is not spelled Y-A-L-E. Most schools DD applied to have an essay prompt in which they want to know why this particular school is the one for you, and I suspect they look at these closely, for specifics. A visit to the school did make it easier for DD to write (hereís where meeting with faculty and people on campus can really help) but if the student has specific programs or faculty or research interests at the school that could do it as well. Itís much harder when all youíve got is ďitís a great school academically and I want to live in X setting.Ē

    Good luck!

    Edited by cricket3 (04/29/18 02:16 PM)

    #242464 - 04/29/18 03:28 PM Re: College information sessions [Re: cricket3]
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    Thank you for a detailed and informative reply, which I will share with my wife and son.

    #242466 - 04/29/18 05:46 PM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    cricket3 Offline

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 665
    Itís still pretty fresh (or raw?) in my mind😉. A very difficult thing, tough to see the effect of the process on friends and peers- there is always injustice, whether perceived or real, and itís hard to see how it affects young people.

    One last thing I just thought of- if you can, get your kid to take notes on the visits. Itís a pain, but they came in handy when my major procrastinator was trying to come up with specific details about different schools while writing all those last minute essays. There will be many more essays than everyone expects, and then there is always one more that just appears (the joys of portals and online apps, where things seem to be revealed gradually). And if possible, donít do more than a couple colleges per visit- itís easy for them to blend together in retrospect...

    #242467 - 04/29/18 06:03 PM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    nicoledad Offline

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 235
    Our school district which has 5 schools has a college fair night with about 200 colleges attending. They are mostly Midwest since we are Illinois and all the big ten schools attend but we do get Vanderbilt and some other state schools. A side note Alabama was at It and there was a girl got a $200,000 scholarship to attend. I think she had gone to that fair and was also a NMF. Also our district uses strive scan which is an app that has a barcode with your info you can give to the college representatives at the fair

    #242468 - 04/29/18 07:38 PM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    knute974 Offline

    Registered: 09/22/09
    Posts: 681
    Loc: controlled chaos
    Our experiences were similar to Cricket's.

    FWIW, my DD did not know what type of college she wanted to attend. At the the end of her sophomore year we started visiting different types of local schools in different settings, i.e. small private liberal arts college, medium size private college, a tech heavy school, a big college town state school with an honors college, and a smaller rural state school. It helped her figure out that she wanted a private school with 5000 to 7000 undergrads, that she liked the liberal arts model more than the tech school and that she would have the state school with an honors college as her safety.

    We did go to a big regional college fair at her high school. We did a Naviance search to see if any of the schools fit her criteria and to whittle down our list to about ten schools. We found that many of the representatives seemed a little burned out. She had a couple good conversations but mostly found the setting too chaotic and difficult to get much time with the rep if it was a popular school.

    We only went to one big hotel presentation with multiple schools. She didn't find it very helpful and readily admitted that she was judging the personalities of the presenters more than the schools. Most of the presenters just did superficial slideshows of the campus. Some did mention whether they tracked demonstrated interest (Rice) while others said they did not bother (U of Chicago). We did go to a single school presentation. It was a much more detailed marketing presentation and helped DD decide that she had no desire to apply so I guess that was a good thing.

    Once your kid has an idea where he wants to go, we found visiting the schools to be valuable for getting a feel for the school. DD had one school in her top five until she went to campus and thought the place felt "stressed out" even though it was summer session. When we visited the college that she will attend in the fall, I could see that she felt comfortable just walking around the campus. She could see herself studying in that library. I also made her write down notes right after we visited a school like Cricket did with her daughter.

    Finally, if your kid is NM eligible, some of the schools give you numbers on their website but many don't. We would not have known if we had not asked the admissions staff. For us, NM made DD's school within our reach financially.

    Edited by knute974 (04/29/18 07:53 PM)
    Edit Reason: typo

    #242473 - 04/30/18 10:52 AM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3288
    Loc: California
    I think that visiting the actual college is a much bigger deal than going to an information session in your area. And by "visiting," I mean spending most of the day there: take a tour, then meet with someone in admissions or a counselor, meet a professor, go to a class. Take notes, ask questions.

    Parents, take note: let the kid do 90% or more of the talking.

    It's easy to attend an organized event that's local, and while doing that is showing interest, it's a few levels down from spending the better part of a day at the college.

    I agree that's it's worth attending the local events, but given that a lot of people are doing the same thing that day, they don't give much in the way that makes a prospective applicant stand out.

    Another advantage of spending some time at a college is that if the student attends, s/he knows a bit about what to expect.

    #242489 - 05/01/18 06:00 AM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    mecreature Offline

    Registered: 03/14/11
    Posts: 354
    Thanks for the list of ideas and tips. Good Topic.

    #242619 - 05/09/18 05:28 AM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    Old Dad Offline

    Registered: 07/30/12
    Posts: 423
    I'd agree with Val, the actual college trip is much more beneficial. If you can possibly manage it, find a student in the field of study your child is interested in and take them to lunch using the opportunity to ask them about their experiences. This proved quite helpful for us not just from the perspective of that particular college but because how things on done in college has changed a good deal over the last couple of decades.

    #242624 - 05/09/18 08:32 AM Re: College information sessions [Re: Bostonian]
    cricket3 Offline

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 665
    Well, I certainly agree, and didnít mean to give the impression that visiting is unimportant. I was just giving our impression of the local info sessions.

    Interestingly, we do know students who employed a somewhat different strategy, and saved most of their visits for the places to which they were accepted, after the entire application season is done. It gets difficult to seriously visit more than a few places if any are a significant distance away, both expense and time-wise, even when one starts early and includes the summer. (Especially if kids are super busy with gazillion AP classes, regeneron research projects and playing on competitive sports teams....) Most places we are familiar with have specific admitted student visit programs, some of which were quite involved, (overnights, planned programs with admin, faculty, current students, meals, overnights, sitting in on classes, open rehearsals, etc). So we certainly know and met kids who applied and then visited. Not the strategy we followed, or that I would recommend, but for a certain type of kid it seemed typical. Also, we heard stories about kids making multiple visits to places that track interest, but I think thatís just craziness. (Though frankly, the whole system is pretty crazy).

    Not to say our way worked any better. For the schools DD was seriously interested in, and than accepted to, we ended up visiting twice- once before applying and then for the admitted days to help with the final decision. And only some of these second visits fall during spring break. Itís exhausting.

    Edited by cricket3 (05/09/18 08:33 AM)
    Edit Reason: Typos

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