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The four biggest mistakes students make when applying to college

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Replies to: The four biggest mistakes students make when applying to college

  • paul2752paul2752 Registered User Posts: 4,254 Senior Member
    The number 4. happens a lot among foreign students and the results can be even more crippling than it can be for domestic students. Parents would take out a BIG loan in their home country-which has higher interest rate than school loan-sell their house, land etc etc because of prestige.
  • 2021classdad2021classdad Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
  • gusmahlergusmahler Registered User Posts: 107 Junior Member
    I agree with @halcyonheather that the benefit of visiting schools is overstated. It's basically impossible to know if you will like a college where you will spend the next 4 years based on a single afternoon's visit. And when you talk to student guides, you're specifically talking to people who like the school enough to become tour guides (people who are miserable in that college do not get a job giving tours there).And it doesn't change the fact that a college that is great for person's A's personality and major might be a bad fit for person B. If the visitor wants to be a bio major and talks to an English major tour guide, how relevant is that?

    As for waiting for spring, there's another negative that he doesn't mention that's specific to visitors who are used to warm weather--not being used to cold weather. My D19's counselor (in AZ) mentioned several of his past student's complaining because their visit to northern colleges in April did not prepare them for how cold it gets in winter.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,184 Senior Member
    or they don't want their kid to fall in love with a campus until they have an acceptance.

    ... with sufficient financial aid and/or scholarships.

    Also, many students may be less picky about college characteristics that can only be determined from a visit, so visits may have less value for them than for other students who may consider visits to be essential.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 26,677 Senior Member
    The amount of time for the app depends on the school. To apply to top schools, the apps are often much more time consuming to complete a high quality application. 2 hours wasn't nearly enough for a school like UChicago or Harvey Mudd.

    If the schools accept in late March, then you have 5 weeks to arrange and visit schools. That is not much time, especially for widely dispersed schools, and busy student schedules. My D2 did 3 accepted student visits -- one East coast, one West coast, and one Midwest (still a flight from our home). And that was pretty nuts -- and she had seen the schools once.

    It puts a lot of pressure on to wait. Obviously some families can't afford to visit. But we see a lot of students out here dumping schools off their list in the spring that are potentially a great fit due to the logistical challenges of visiting in that short window. And we see students who hate all their choices in the spring, too. It is a higher pressure process for students who delay visiting. And also increases the risk of picking a school that does not work out, which is often more costly than visiting.
  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 Registered User Posts: 2,580 Senior Member
    @STEM2017 We're taking the same approach. We visited a handful to see what D likes and she applied widely to schools that fit what she's looking for. Hopefully she will have multiple choices and we'll visit each before she makes a final choice.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 10,541 Super Moderator
    This is a pretty good article! I agree with almost all of it except for the first point. A lot of middle-class families can't afford to have their kids flying (or driving) all over the place, and I think visits are most useful once a student has been admitted and is trying to make choices between colleges. I think it's better to wait to see where you've gotten in, then carefully choose 2-4 colleges at the top of the list that are also affordable, realistic choices for the student and try to visit those to make a final decision.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 57,184 Senior Member
    Perhaps, for a student who has criteria that are best determined by a visit, doing the early visits to safeties (and low matches that use "level of applicant's interest") may be worthwhile, in order to ensure that s/he will be happy to attend such a school (and the visit will not be "wasted", since the student should know that s/he will be admitted and find it affordable). That leaves only the more speculative schools to visit later if the student is admitted with an affordable net price.

    For many, the safeties may be relatively nearby in-state public universities or community colleges, so that visiting may not require as much travel as for more distant schools.
  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 Registered User Posts: 628 Member
    "Delaying" visits til spring seems natural. The weather is nice plus it's easier for a HS senior to take time off their spring semester than fall.

    But the weather is just as good in Spring of junior year. We spread visits over three trips and a couple years. Some of the schools didn't make the apply list. One that did we haven't visited but it's a school somewhere between match and safety regarding merit aid so if we need to visit, we will in the spring.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,359 Senior Member
    Waiting until acceptances AND financial aid offers came in to visit schools would not have worked for us. Merit awards were not all set until mid-April for some schools. With prom, senior class trip, AP exams, senior projects, consideration for level of interest and such, it made sense to visit top contenders ahead of time.

    But we were pursuing merit awards. It may not make as much sense to visit lots of reach schools.

    I agree with @Sportsman88 - we did a lot of visits Junior year to whittle down the list, then went to Accepted Students days Senior year for just a couple schools to make a final decision.
  • camwowcamwow Registered User Posts: 130 Junior Member
    edited October 2016
    I am a senior in high school and I think I have already made the "mistake" of waiting until spring to visit colleges. My parents would never let me visit any college because they thought it was a waste of time (their theory was, "why would you want to visit a college that you might not even get into")

    I am going to apply to about fifteen schools because of this (not really worried about the money, because if you think about it, applying to a school costs the same and sometimes less than visiting a school because of flights, gas, hotels, etc., right?).

    Im hoping to get into at least four of them.

    Should I be worried?
  • CADREAMINCADREAMIN Registered User Posts: 2,096 Senior Member
    edited October 2016
    I would start the visits early and spread them out. We took several off the list by a "visual eval" --- a few minutes driving by/through campus in the car. Kids knew they wouldn't want to attend for whatever reason. Didn't waste time on app.

    With all the visits we have done, the one regret I think of now and then was senior year April - daughter got in CS with honors and some research thing to UNC Chapel Hill, but each aspect (honors, research thing) came in at different times (kept getting better) so it was more like mid April when we had all the data. I had decided I would never pay out of state rates for a public school, which is why I had written it off. We are from CA, so planning the trip at the last minute with cross country flight, car, hotel, etc for a couple days was going to cost us about $3500-4K for two of us. Then with all the exams and senior stuff in a flurry around us, it became overwhelming. It wasn't just the money, it was overall pressure and just too much to deal with. The straw that broke the camels back was when I called to set up the tour, the person that answered the phone at UNC just happened to be rude and curt, so it was easy to say nah, never mind (I think there was an F word in my mind, to be honest.) In our defense, being out of state, we had no idea she would actually get in, yet with all the perks, so we weren't prepared for that. It happens. But sorta wish we had seen it earlier to know if it was a contender or not, BEFORE April.

  • snooznsnoozn Registered User Posts: 915 Member
    Obviously it depends on money/time resources if visits can be made at all, but I'd say if you can: visit safeties in hopes that the student will at least like one. Then visit the highest interest targets or areas where several schools on the list are clustered. My senior only visited reach schools when they happened to work into a trip to see targets or safeties.

    One added benefit of visits is taking schools off the list, as my D did with three. You may not know you DO want to be somewhere four years from an afternoon visit, but you can decide you DON'T want to be there.
  • losgatoscalosgatosca Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    I think another mistake people make is that they don't consider the city they are going to school in. Going to a school in NYC will be much more interesting than going to one in the middle of nowhere. Of course, if you love the outdoors, the reverse my apply.
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