By Laura Cuneo, Director of Counseling
On October 20, Chaminade counselors will be departing on a six-night, seven-day college tour of the East Coast with 30 students. Starting in Boston and traveling amid the picturesque Northeast, a region that has always garnered great appeal among our students, students will visit 12 colleges and universities that vary in size, atmosphere, academic opportunities, and selectivity. From Boston College, Georgetown University, and Syracuse University, to Drexel University and Goucher College—to name a few– our counseling team has purposefully included these schools to address the wide range of interest of our students.
We invited students in grades 10-12 to on this tour so they can begin to recognize the criteria that are important to them in choosing a college. The tours and information sessions offered on each campus provide each student with valuable insight and perspective wherever they are in their college process. Chaminade Counseling has been providing college tour opportunities for students for over a decade because we know that visiting a college campus is truly a powerful thing.
Most high school students understand that the college admissions process is wrought with time-consuming tasks, and many start feeling the pressure of the process as early as freshman and sophomore year. With nearly 5,000 college options in the United States, just thinking about where to apply is overwhelming to most. Students feel pressure to build a college list, excel on standardized tests, and be outstanding in their activities. They often get caught up in the minutia of trying to prepare for college; this can, in turn, make them miss out on the individualized and interesting part of the search process, which includes visiting different types of schools and really thinking about finding the college that fits them best. We see the college process as a true process, reflective of how students are ever-changing throughout their high school years. College tours, as a whole, offer students a unique opportunity to understand and approach an otherwise complicated and anxiety-inducing process, bringing the fun back into it!
If a student is not sure whether they prefer a large research institution or a small liberal arts college, a school in a rural environment or a bustling city, or even a school that will bring with it drastically different weather than they are used to, physically experiencing it is invaluable. Many students are influenced by schools they hear about often, those that family members attended, or simply the bumper sticker effect, which is completely normal. Taking advantage of stepping foot on a college campus takes all of these preconceived notions away and helps students form their own feeling and opinion about a school. How did they feel being on campus? Were the students friendly? Did it seem like someplace they could see themselves? How did they feel walking into the Student Union Building or sitting in the university library? Students are choosing a ‘home away from home’ when they are exploring colleges. And nothing tells them more about a school, its opportunities, and what they can expect, than being there themselves.
The added benefit of touring colleges is evident when students begin applying to schools in the fall of their senior year. Students need to research colleges thoroughly to create a balanced college list of schools – all of which they should be happy attending. And when the time comes to submit university-specific supplement essays or have an admissions interview, they will legitimately have something to say. They will also be well-informed about the kind of school they want to attend. As students continue to learn about themselves and their needs and wants, tours enable them to gather information directly from the source. They can see for themselves what sets one school apart from another.
Of course, it is not always possible for students to visit every school they might be interested in (and there are alternatives out there to help students still “see” a school), but when it is possible to be there physically, it truly proves to be significant. Chaminade Counseling is proud to be able to plan and offer college tours each year to our students that highlight a wide array of schools in various parts of the country. After our exciting tour of the East Coast this month, we will begin planning a college tour of the Pacific Northwest that will take place in the spring.
We look forward to providing another opportunity for our students to experience a different group of amazing colleges and universities in a very different (and truly beautiful) setting. No matter where we travel, our ultimate goal is to help our students find the college that fits them best. Seeing is really believing!