Tips for Campus Visits
In a digital age where everything we need to know is one click away, how important is the campus visit when applying to boarding schools? As both an admission officer and a prospective parent, I feel compelled to tell you it is one of the most essential parts of the process. An in-person visit is the best way to find out which schools’ programs are just common denominators and which are unique differentiators. Stepping onto campus provides the only opportunity to meet the members of a school community, to take a closer look at facilities and security, and to discover if a place feels like home.
Here are a few tips to make the most of an on-campus experience:
Book the Visit: You should schedule your visit at least a week in advance, and even sooner if you’re visiting in the fall, the busiest time of year for admission offices. If there are coaches or teachers you want to see while you’re there, you can request that at the time you schedule. Most schools will be happy to add those people to your itinerary.
Dress to Impress: Use the school’s website to look up expectations for dress and follow those guidelines for your visit. Something along the lines of business casual is usually safe, but some schools have stricter policies. Also, remember you will take a campus tour, so don’t be afraid to wear comfortable shoes.
Research and Prioritize: While you’re on the website, take note of what you’d like to learn more about. This is a good way to devise a list of questions that will help you dig a bit deeper into the topics that interest you. Note that most schools use students to guide tours and admission officers to conduct interviews. If that is the case, you may want to focus more on the student experience during the tour and save the parent questions for the interview.
Be Yourself: Remember that the interview and the visit are dual-purpose. Both you and the admission staff are most interested in discovering the right fit for your family.
Ultimately, it may take a few school visits and conversations to figure out what you really want. So, don’t be disheartened if the first visit leaves you feeling uncertain. Take your time to explore, and be true to yourself.
Lena Eckstine Assistant Director of Admission Mercersburg Academy