College Admission

Tips for Making the Most of College Tours

College ToursWhether you’re just beginning the college application process or ending it, the pressure to visit future colleges is strong. While it may, at first glance, seem like both kinds of visits – prospective and admitted student – are the same, they can’t be more different from each other.

A prospective student’s college tour will most likely only consist of an actual physical tour of the campus by a tour guide. An admitted student tour will not only have a physical tour of the school but a full day filled with information panels and activities.

Since I have just recently completed my last prospective and admitted student tours, I would like to share some of my tips and ‘hacks’ that have helped me learn more about the campus and be able to take full advantage of my time at the schools.

Tips for Prospective Student Tours

As a prospective student, you unfortunately won’t get the same attention as an admitted student, yet there are still ways to get the most of out the college visit. Try to learn as much as you can about the school before you go. Whether it’s a flight or only a short drive away from you, coming with prior knowledge will help you make better judgements when evaluating the different campuses. I made sure to come to the school having already read its wikipedia page. Aside from that, I came with a list of questions that I could ask my tour guide.

Here are some possible, general questions you, a prospective student, can ask your tour guide:
1. Do you feel the size of the school affects your college experience and how?
2. How does the location of the school affect your college experience?
3. How safe is the campus? Is it an open or close campus?
4. What are some things that you would change about the campus?

Overall, a prospective college tour is mainly to give you an idea of what type of college you would like to attend. Make sure to visit at least two very different schools in order to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for in a college campus.

Tips for Admitted College Tour

As an admitted student, you now truly have the option of attending the school you are about to visit, so it’s extremely important that you come well-prepared. Before visiting Boston University, I got in contact with the editor-in-chief of the school paper and was able to arrange a meeting with the entire staff during my time there. So after I finished the six-hour-long sessions tours, I walked to the paper’s building and hung out with a bunch of the current students and was able to ask them questions about the campus and campus life.

While visiting USC, I met up with a friend who’s a current student there and we were able to walk around and she showed me so many things that the official tour did not. I was also able to attend a fun get-together of a bunch of of her friends and see what it was like to spend an average friday night at USC. Because I had already been admitted, it was important for me to ask questions that were much more in depth and could really separate the schools and help me narrow my choices.

Some questions I asked the students at both campuses were:
1. What kinds of internships have you done?
2. How accessible are those internships?
3. What are the different kinds of housing options?
4. Is a car a necessity?
5. How important is greek life to the school?

I know it can be a little overwhelming to start visiting colleges, whether you’re a prospective or an admitted student, but if you approach the visit as a tool, you’ll be able to make the most of it. Overall, college visits should get you excited about going to college, so don’t stress too much and enjoy the trips!

This is a guest post by Noa Livneh, a high school senior in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Career Planning

The Art of Networking

Networking As you finish up college, you’re probably thinking about your next steps. Though post-college decisions are some of the hardest you’ll ever make, there is no time more exciting than the months following your college graduation.

Of the plethora of choices, you, like many graduates, may be opting to join the workforce. And though there are many tips and tricks to help procure employment in this rather unfavorable economy, perhaps the most important aspect is something that you won’t learn in school: the art – and necessity – of networking.

I know, I know, networking sounds like a real drag. Between the awkward emails, uncomfortable coffee dates and implications of using someone I barely know for my personal gain, at first the whole idea seemed a little nauseating to me.

But once I started getting the hang of it, I realized that the art of networking is not nearly as underhanded as I had suspected. In fact, it was pretty much just a candid interview with people whose careers I admired and whose steps I aim to emulate.

Here are a few tricks to make networking less nerve wracking, more successful and more fun.

1. Use your contacts. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be well-connected, chances are you know a few people who can help you professionally. Get in touch with friends who graduated before you, your parents’ friends and other alumni in your field. Spreading the word about your job search will extend your reach exponentially, and you never know who is looking for a bright young employee.

2. Reach out. Don’t be shy about getting in touch with anyone. Sending an email or calling someone new can be intimidating, but don’t let it hamper your networking abilities.

3. Be persistent, but not annoying. Sometimes, people who you reach out to don’t reply right away. Don’t take it personally — working professionals are busy, and thus, they sometimes need some probing. If you don’t hear back within five to seven days of your first email, send another. But remember, there is a fine line between persistence and pestering—so it’s wise to move on after two or three unanswered attempts.

4. Don’t think of yourself as a burden. Most people are happy to help a new, driven addition to their field. Accept help freely and know that someday in the not-so-far-off future you will be able to pay it forward.

5. Don’t treat it like an interview. Put on a good face, but don’t hide your weaknesses. Networking should be a conversation, not an evaluation. Provide honest answers and ask a range of questions (so long as they’re appropriate).

6. Write a thank you note. Send a very personalized “thank you” to each person with whom you meet. Of course, these people are probably more than happy to meet with you, but everyone appreciates a little gratitude for the donation of time and advice.

7. Follow up. A single networking meeting isn’t useful if you’re not using it to build a more extensive network. Follow up a few months after meeting and stay in touch with your contacts. That way, should you need any future help, it will be easy to get in touch.

Paying for College

College Scholarship Types & Sources [Infographic]

Scholarship Sources Infographic