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Admitted-Student Day vs. Ordinary-Day Visits?

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,908 Senior Member
On admitted-student days, colleges trot out balloons and banners, their perkiest undergrads and rock-star profs. These events can be a great way to view school highlights and to see if the lion’s share of future classmates are sporting pink polos ... or pink hair. But some parents and their progeny insist that a better way to get to know a prospective alma mater is by showing up when the admission folks aren’t pulling out all the stops and when, instead, it’s business-as-usual on campus, not bells-and-whistles.

So for those of you who have attended an admitted-students day recently ... or in the past ... would you recommend seeing a candidate college that way or do you feel that an under-the-radar visit is more effective?

Replies to: Admitted-Student Day vs. Ordinary-Day Visits?

  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 22,666 Forum Champion
    My feeling is that the accepted student days were generally worthwhile. Many colleges had things offered such as: the chance to interact with current and admitted students, an opportunity to sit in on classes, ability to visit the choice of freshman dorms, some had an overnight component for the accepted student etc. that set it apart from a normal visit. Most accepted student days also had a very positive energy. Going to the accepted student days of his top choices really helped my S to decide which college he wanted to attend.

    FWIW we tended to avoid the huge "junior days" for the reason noted above -- too crowded and we felt we generally got more out of a regular information session/tour, but we did find accepted student days valuable in general.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,908 Senior Member
    @happy1 -I think you make a good point ... there can be a big difference between programs aimed at juniors (where there are lots of window-shoppers who may know little about the college and who won't ultimately apply) and those for admitted students, who are obviously serious about the school and, hopefully, well-informed.

    Thus, folks who were turned off by the 11th-grade all-comers extravaganzas shouldn't automatically avoid the admitted-students events.
  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU Registered User Posts: 1,335 Senior Member
    I liked the one admitted students' day we were able to attend because it gave my DS a glimpse of the potential peer class, and chance to make some initial contacts and recognize that everyone is nervous,. The students may be able to come to campus knowing at least one other person.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,908 Senior Member
    @TQfromtheU -I think that seeing the "potential peer class" is indeed a big plus. (Though my son attended one admitted-student program and made a "friend" there ... his campus-overnight roommate ... who ended up attending a different college. But they are still in touch on Facebook). ;-)

    So, even though this isn't really the thread for it, I should also point out that, although my son didn't come home from the admitted-student days with a slew of BFF's, he later attended one of those pre-frosh programs, as I call them, which turned out to be very valuable. (These are bonding programs for freshmen that typically last 4 to 7 days, almost always cost extra, and are usually right before the school year starts.) A growing number of schools seem to be offering them and many are theme-based (e.g., community service, hiking). Even now, as a second-semester sophomore, some of my son's closest friends are classmates he met in his pre-frosh program. I've only heard good things about them and, although they can feel pricey--especially on top of all the other college expenses--the fee could be an apt graduation gift from a close relative or a flush family friend.
  • blurryfaceblurryface Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    My school is currently operating its admitted student's days and I have to say I don't think they're THAT much more genuine than a junior open house is. It's still run by the admissions office and they are still trying to get as many people to attend their school as possible. Admitted student's days really put the whole school into flux because it requires so many hands-on-deck and takes up so much space. The food in the dining hall is different, everyone's schedules are different because so many people are involved, and the constant coming and going of tours disrupts people's routines.

    I think visiting individually would be much more worthwhile because you can be more of a fly on the wall, watching how the school operates normally. You can still ask to sit in on a class and attend a club meeting and eat in the dining hall, but you'll be getting a more authentic experience. I think observing current students -- all of them, not just the ones hired by admissions to interact with you during the event! -- is more valuable that meeting kids that may or may not end up in the same school as you.
  • dcolosidcolosi Registered User Posts: 440 Member
    Our experience at the school my D will be attending was that the admitted student day was a lot more informative than the general tour. However, we also had a special day that was invite only that we went to and that was very similar to the admitted day events.

    If I was just comparing the general tour we did last year, it was the normal sit in a room learn at a high level about the school, take the tour, see a dorm room, etc. Then we did some walking around on our own and explored the town a bit.

    On admitted student day, it was a longer experience starting with the celebration events to get you excited, then the opening session where they really talked about tradition and got you excited about being admitted. The tour for admitted students day was a lot better than the general session tour and took us to parts of campus not on the general tour and learned more about some of the buildings on campus. We then did a breakout session for her intended major and that would have been great except she had already met with this person and seen the presentation during her special invite only event so didn't learn anything new. Then because she is direct admit and accepted into the LLC we were able to go to her future dorm and tour the floor and meet some other current LLC members. This was nice to see the actual dorm room and bathrooms that she will be in rather than the standard general dorm tour. What was also nice was there were two other girls there who also were accepted into the LLC so she will start the fall having at least knowing some other girls as they now have a group chat set up.

  • trackmbe3trackmbe3 Registered User Posts: 628 Member
    edited April 2017
    Having visited so many colleges I think an ordinary day visit is essential, as blurryface mentions above, so that you can observe more authentically the daily activities of the students and campus. But I think it's also helpful, for all the reasons mentioned by happy1 and Sally in the posts above, to visit the admitted students day for the top 2 or 3 choices before making the final decision.
  • GoatGirl19GoatGirl19 Registered User Posts: 227 Junior Member
    Because my family doesn't live in the United States, I wasn't able to visit any of the colleges before applying or after admission, until the summer before college after I had made my decision. My school is currently running our Accepted Students' activities, and I agree with @happy1 and @dcolosi that Accepted Students' Days do offer a slightly more detailed experience. Our school holds activities fairs on Accepted Students' Days so the potential students can see the sorts of activities available, and there are meetings having to do with various on-campus programs, scheduling, and explanations of my college's unique term/project structure. It's sort of like a pre-orientation. It tends not to be very disruptive to much except waiting times for meals; ours are scheduled on Wednesdays, when it's mostly only lab classes that are happening, and labs have restricted access.
    If parents and students have the time and resources, I would definitely recommend touring (on regular tour days) their top candidate schools around the time they apply, but not on the big open house days, then attending the Accepted Students' Day for their top choice or top two schools. If you want to get an even better idea of what the campus is like when tours aren't around however, another option (especially at a small school) is to contact a professor or an admissions person and get your own private tour on an off day--it will be less scripted and more tailored to things you are looking for.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,453 Senior Member
    DS ended up doing a couple of "make your own day" programs and many admitted student days. While we would be the first to admit that the accepted student days are not "normal", he found them much more useful.

    First, the school made everyone available, whereas on some of the individual days, someone he'd hoped to see, such as a coach, was traveling or otherwise unavailable.

    At all of them, there were a lot of faculty members to talk with informally. DS had some ideas of what might interest him, but one of the reasons he was looking at LACs was because he wanted to explore. He did not feel he was "passionate" enough about most subjects to seek out professors on his own at individual visits, but he welcomed the opportunity to chat with profs who taught everything from Middle Eastern history to Geology and definitely got a sense of how their enthusiasm for a subject might be contagious.

    On several of his "make your own" days, he ended up in a class that was a real dud. At one, they were getting exams back. At two different schools, the class he was supposed to attend was cancelled! (At one of these, someone's roommate took him to a completely different class, which was fine, and at the other, the student ended up giving him a highly animated tour of the student union.) At one accepted student day, he sat in on a somewhat dull class, and the students in the class, knowing that he was a prospective student, came up and talked to him after class to tell him it wasn't always that dry, etc. I wonder, had he been there on his own, if the students would have known he was considering the school and felt so open in sharing the context for the class.

    At all of the "make your own" days, what happened was largely dependent on the student host and the host's schedule. DS liked his hosts, but it doesn't always work out that way. Many more students were available on the accepted student days. At some schools, kids who have already committed have some designation on their name tags.

    If the student is not going alone, there's usually separate programming for parents at accepted student days, which can give the student plenty of time to explore on his/her own while the parents are fully occupied with things that may concern them more. I wouldn't put this in the category of making the accepted student day "better", but it's a plus.

    Yes, the schools are really able to put their best foot forward for one day, but if it's not such a good foot, that could be a sign too.

    I would add, to be fair, that DS did not apply to any schools that he had not visited on a "normal" day for a tour, info session, meal in the dining hall, etc. At all the ones that cleared his screen, the students had seemed happy, friendly, etc., so I don't think that he had any reason to believe that they'd all turned it on for that day, as unusual as it might have been.
  • tx5athometx5athome Registered User Posts: 3,705 Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    Ideally you have gone to see the college before applying, but I realize that isn't always logistically possible. For two of mine, the choice was already made when we attended the admitted students day, we just used it as a way to get excited about the decision and the next chapter and to figure out which dorm to give priority to. For my oldest, she was agonizing between 3 choices, and we used the Admitted Student Days as a tool to help make her final decision.
  • UndercrackersUndercrackers Registered User Posts: 712 Member
    Unfortunately, two things can limit if and when and how often a kid can visit a particular college: high school schedule and finances. We had neither to jet around visiting dozens of schools prior to applications. Instead, we went with doing tours at a small private and a large public - both local - as a warm up, and then went to the 3 she was realistically considering after acceptances came out. All of these were during either fall or spring breaks or on a weekend in senior year, as D didn't want to miss any of her HS classes. The admit days to the 3 UC's she applied to fell during spring break, so that's when we visited.

    UCB = first tour in October during homecoming weekend (completely not planned): lots of activity and alumni running around, but probably more typical for a normal day than Admit Day would be.

    UCSB = Admit Day - of course, all the bells and whistles they could muster. I think it gave D enough of a picture of the campus, culture, etc., to help her in her decision-making.

    UCB = middle of the week during D's spring break - housing tour, plus another mooch around campus - a much better idea of what a normal weekday was like (quiet during normal class hours, busy between).

    UCLA = Admit Day (same day as Cal's - coincidence? I think not!) - campus buzzing with people and rah rah. Gorgeous L.A. spring day. Doing the housing tour (and that hike up the hill to said housing) and eating lunch in one of the cafeterias were great opportunities to gather info. Reflected very favorably on the school. Convinced D would become a Bruin.

    Some kids need a lot of information to select a college - maybe all kids should visit multiple times, spend the night, sit in on classes, etc. I can only speak for mine, who knew 10 minutes into our drive back from UCLA that she was going to Cal.
  • OrcinusOrcinus Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    edited April 2017
    I like the rah-rah spirit of the admitted student visit days. I also visited most campuses before applying, but couldn't get to all of them. Now I'm going back to my short list.
  • TorveauxTorveaux Registered User Posts: 1,461 Senior Member
    For us, the scheduled events did not always fit with out schedule. Logistics can be a bear, even for nearby schools. We did some 'generic' visits on weekends to nearby schools. Many of those were not even in consideration. It only took an hour or so, but S1 got the feel of what some campuses were like.

    Once he narrowed his choices somewhat, we took him to visit campuses that were in the running in the same format. Get a sense for if he could see himself living there for 4+ years. If not, no sense in sitting through the song and dance portion of the evening.

    When he got down to those schools he could afford (after acceptance) he went to more formal visits to see the inner-workings.

    The short answer is that this is not an either-or, but a 'both-and' situation. Don't limit yourself to one type of data gathering.
  • OCNYmomOCNYmom Registered User Posts: 57 Junior Member
    edited April 2017
    My D has visited schools on a normal day, when we scheduled our own visit with the admissions office. Those were last spring as a HS Junior. We have since gone to a few open houses, and have attended 2 Admitted Students Days to help her make her decision from 3 schools. (Gone to 2 already; the last one is next week!)

    Though it is helpful to see a regular campus day, my D prefers the open houses and Admitted Student Days. Though they are crowded and you know that Admissions is putting on something of a show to sell prospective/admitted students on coming to the school, all the information is available. There are groups of students and professsors there, ready to answer questions. There are info sessions and tours. D is looking to study engineering, but has always been involved in music and theatre. Each school has offered a theatre and/or music info session and tour during those event days that she would not have been able to do on a make-your-own visit. It has been helpful for her to meet other engineering students that are involved in acting and producing plays on campus.

    For 2 of the final 3 schools she is choosing from, D has been to a regular tour AND is going back now to help her decide. She never had a chance to visit before applying to the 3rd, and saw it for the first time last week.

    I think that if it is possible to arrange to visit on a normal college day, and later return for an admissions event such as those for admitted students, that is best.
  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 1,436 Senior Member
    We just went to a re-visit day for admitted students, and it was incredibly helpful--well organized, lots of useful info.

    Previously, my child had re-visited their final two choices on a regular school day (luckily we could drive, both about 4-5 hours away, and 1.5 hours apart). We did not sign up or do an info session/tour. We just sat on a bench on the main quad and chatted while the school day took place. We arrived a little before 9 in the morning and observed students going to class. We stayed until the 11 o'clock classes had started. She could see how students dressed, how upbeat they were, and how/how much they interacted when no one was trying to impress. It was a very helpful experience.
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