The College Visit
By Allison Luhrs, College Counselor
Families frequently pose the question, “When should we begin visiting colleges?” While students likely won’t remember much of a campus visit they took during Middle School, there’s really no bad time to visit. If your family is going to see Grandma in San Francisco, build in an afternoon on one of the nearby college campuses. If there’s a soccer tournament in Spokane, see if you can get on a campus tour of Gonzaga. And if you don’t know which colleges are near where you’re headed, please speak to any of us on the College Counseling team and we’ll be happy to help you identify some good options.
Within the College Counseling program, our official college touring began for the sophomores last Wednesday, when the whole Class of 2020 spent the morning in Tacoma on the campus of University of Puget Sound and the afternoon at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. AT UPS they received a campus tour from current students, met with an Admissions Officer to learn about the liberal arts approach to college, and experienced a university dining hall lunch. At UW they had a chance to hear from and ask questions of EPS alumni Max Bright (’14), Akshay Chalana (’15), and Trevor Hedges (’14), as well as Annabelle Kays, sister of current sophomore Caroline. Students visited some of the main UW buildings and landmarks and took in the energy of a large research university.
For many sophomores, the UPS and UW visits were their very first college visits, but others had recently returned from the Mid-Atlantic EBC trip and were well-versed in the art of the college visit. Those who traveled with Process Coaches Matt Delaney and Kelly Violette in March had a chance to tour and hear from representatives of American University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Goucher University, and Johns Hopkins University—all of which offered students the opportunity to identify personal preferences and aspects they might want to focus on as they continue their college search.
While it’s not necessary to visit every college in which a student is interested, it’s a good idea to sample colleges of different sizes, proximities to a city, and approaches to education. Each visit will help a student gain a sense of what they like and don’t like as they start building lists and narrowing the field of options. Taking notes while on a visit and recording impressions directly afterwards will provide a useful record of visits—especially as campuses and tours inevitably begin to blend together. College counselors are always happy to debrief a visit with a student upon their return to campus, so please let us know where you’ve been and what you thought!