Some tips for juniors

Wow… I can’t believe it’s March already. The weather is getting milder and sunnier here in Richmond, and yesterday I saw flowers for the first time this year, poking through and starting to bloom, down the street from my place in Church Hill.

While the admission committee is in full swing reviewing applicants for next year’s class, a whole new group of students is preparing to embark on the excitement of the college search process. March and April are prime visit times for high school juniors, and I’m sure many of you are planning your spring break trips or extended-weekend excursions. I hope all of you plan to visit the University of Richmond; remember, we’re conveniently located 10 minutes from the intersection of I-95 and I-64, so there’s no reason not to stop by and pay us a visit if you’re headed north-south on 95 or east-west on 64. (For the record, my own first visit to UR was a direct result of the campus’ proximity to I-95… we were on the way home from some college visits in North Carolina and decided to drop in. The rest, as they say, is history.)

As you’re preparing to begin visiting colleges — some of you have probably started already — here are a couple of my own personal thoughts, tips, and recommendations; these are based on my own experience as well as the three years I’ve now worked in college admission.

1. Summer is good. Spring is better. For a lot of you, summer is just going to be more convenient for college visits, and that’s fine. But if you can squeeze in any visits during the spring months, I recommend it. Campuses tend to be much more active, and you ideally want to see what a school looks like when everything is in full swing. Plus, admission offices sometimes offer more visit options during the spring months.

2.  Don’t try to visit three colleges in one day. It’s just not worth it. I know this is just your initial blitz for visits, but if you make it too much of a blitz you’ll wear yourself out pretty quickly. My honest opinion is that one visit per day is ideal. Two visits in a day is doable, as long as the schools are in fairly close proximity (but keep in mind that’s at least two and a half hours on your feet for walking tours).

3. Leave time to explore. An information session and tour are a great overview and introduction to a college, but the tour may not take you to all the buildings that are of particular interest to you. Leave some time to visit those places (libraries, arts centers, science facilities, recreation centers, etc.) I also highly recommend eating a meal at every college you visit — if you’re going to eat the food for four years, you want to make sure from the start that it’s good.

4. Check for special visit programs. I suggest picking the two or three schools that are currently of most interest to you and seeing whether they have any visit options a little more in-depth than the typical tour and information session (like our Spider Saturday in a few weeks). Most colleges will give you a lot more options in the fall of your senior year, once you narrow down your list a little bit; but for those schools that you already know are of particular interest, why not take advantage of a broader experience in the spring?

5. Record your thoughts. A lot of counselor-types recommend this, and with good reason. Keep some sort of log, journal, list, or chart — whatever suits you best. Jot down your thoughts and impressions, however major or minor, at each campus you visit. Some of you may only visit five college campuses; others may get closer to 50. Either way, the combination of visit volume and time’s passage will make it hard to remember everything come November, so recording your thoughts now will have big payoff when it comes time to make your final selections and apply.

Safe travels, and we hope to see you soon!


  1. 2014Mom
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Not much action on the blog lately…Are you busy getting ready to release decisions?

    • Tom
      Posted March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Yes indeed… March has been a crazy month in the admission office. Should be a new blog post up in the next day or so!

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