College Admissions: The Spring College Tour


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By Dr. Paul Lowe – College Admissions Guru

I visit each Elite Eight and thirty top-tier colleges and universities every winter, spring, summer and fall.   These visits are lots of fun and help me to see, feel and understand the many changes that occur on campuses so that I can discuss them directly with my clients or during the Q and A sessions at my college admissions seminars.

On each visit, I talk with professors and department heads, sit in on a class or two, visit the admissions office, the athletic department and of course enjoy the gastronomy unique to each college dining hall.  I love to talk with students as I discover why they decided to attend a particular school, what they like least or best about the college and experiences adjusting to college life.  The more I visit a campus, the easier it is to discern differences, to assess dynamic changes and to pinpoint key campus priorities.

Last week, was the “spring break college tour season”, where high school and college spring vacations do not overlap and where visiting campuses during spring break is an annual tradition. On these particular tours, I see anxious parents with their high school juniors.  Since most juniors have the entire week off, I actually have had the opportunity of seeing the same families at tours.

Tours can be extremely interesting, to me, even after being on the same tour over and over again, because I listen to parents as they lead their children and listen to prospective applicants who will be applying in the fall.

I overheard one parent announce to another parent that he had connections and knew trustees. Connections? Really?  Trustees are not admissions officers!  College admissions is an evaluative process.

It appears this parent did not fully comprehend the acceptance rate at this particular school – 5.33% or conversely that his son, based on the current admissions climate, has a 94.67% possibility of being rejected.

I overheard one student tell her mother that as the valedictorian of her class she knew she would probably be accepted.  Really?  At this particular university, traditionally, only 10% of the valedictorians who applied are accepted.  Competitive schools accept classes, not just qualified, admissible applicants!

One parent stated that she knew that her daughter would be accepted because she is a legacy applicant.  Really?  Legacies get rejected all the time, especially when parents make the irrevocable mistake of assuming that their children must be accepted.

I also overheard a conversation between a lacrosse student and another student that his high school coach knew the college coach so he would probably be recruited and accepted? Really?  The reality is that college coaches know and truly understand that Admissions, not Athletics, has the last word on who will receive admissions offers.

For me, the spring college tours are always exciting.  The college students playing frisbee, kickball or juggling on the campus greens are happy and relieved that it’s finally spring.  I see newly accepted students with a tangible glee walking around with their parents getting to know the campus.   I get to wear my high top sneakers, jeans, t-shirt, baseball cap and absorb that energy and excitement I felt when I toured colleges as a high school junior and as a parent with my wife and my children.

Dr. Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Greenwich Admissions Advisors Dr. Lowe is an active member of several professional organizations including: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the National Association for College Counseling (NACAC), the New York Association for College Admission Counseling (NYACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC), the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), and the Admissions Leadership Consortium (ALC).