1. Subscribe to college mailing list. Colleges maintain mailing lists for the purpose of communicating directly with students. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the colleges you are considering.
2. Subscribe to college blogs. Bloggers can be admissions staff or students who have agreed to write regular columns about their experiences. Both can be enormously helpful in understanding the college, its community, and the application process.
3. Attend college fairs. Schools send admissions counselors or alumni representatives to fairs country wide. There are regional fairs, theme-based fairs and what I call ‘alliance of colleges’ fairs—these are colleges that group together to put on a regional event. These are perfect for making a first connection and grabbing some basic information.
4. Sign-up for high school-based presentations. Colleges send admissions representatives to meet with students on their turf. These fall events are organized through the student services/guidance office. Learn the schedule and sign up for presentations that interest you. Grab the admissions rep’s business card and connect by thanking them, mentioning what you learned from their presentation and your plan to apply.
5. Go virtual. Colleges are increasingly participating in websites designed to support “virtual” visits to their campuses. The most popular of these sites include CampusTours.com, ecampustours.com, and YOUniversityTV.com. You can even attend a virtual college fair at CollegeWeekLive.com or take a college course via podcast through iTunes U. YouTube offers professionally sample of student videos. These can also be found on TheU.com.
6. “Friend” a college. Colleges know that many students spend lots of time on social media. One option is to friend a college on Facebook. Many have built their own “fan” pages, which they use as tools to display videos, pictures, and news articles about their schools. On Facebook, colleges keep in touch with potential applicants and provide them with important information and invitations to events.
7. Check out campus media. Most every college has a college newspaper and many also have campus radio and/or television stations. This is a great way to keep up with campus goings-on—without editorial oversight from the admissions office. You can find most newspapers online and with a little creative searching you can stream a live broadcast—use your techy skills and give it a try!
8. Attend a reception. A local or regional is less of a social event and more of an off-campus information session. It is another opportunity to meet admissions staff, ask questions, and pick up more marketing material. You’ll also get a peek at the competition—students from other local high schools who attend and like to apply.
9. Schedule an on-campus interview. When visiting, you may be able to schedule an interview as part of the on-campus experience. If you have done your research, it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the college and the major/program of interest to you. Sometimes, you can fold in time to meet with a student who has similar academic interests to your own and learn firsthand about the classes and professors, and much more. You might even be able to audit a class during your visit!
10. Schedule a local interview. Many colleges provide off-campus interviews conducted by admissions staff or more often alumni in the area. These interviews are usually offered after you’ve applied. Interviews may be “informational” or “evaluative.” Most are informational only. This is an important method of connecting with a college to show interest even after you have applied.
Elizabeth LaScala PhD guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She helps students choose majors and programs of interest, develops best match college lists, offers personalized essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize scholarship opportunities and financial aid awards. Call (925) 385-0562 or visit Elizabeth at her website to learn more.