College visits pose unnecessary costs for minimal benefit

April 22, 2019 — by Alex Wang

Students who visit colleges usually do not change their minds about schools to apply to, nor do these visits help their applications.

Over spring break, many students flew across the country to visit colleges. Attending tour after tour, these students most likely heard much of the same speeches by tour guides and did not come away with a clear list of colleges to apply to.

For juniors and underclassmen, college visits are largely unnecessary. Students should not bother spending a lot of money and time visiting because information about these colleges can easily be found elsewhere and visitations do not help chances in college admissions.

Most importantly, the costs of visiting colleges are high. Although visiting with family is probably the cheapest option, there are still a variety of expenses, including airfare, hotels and food. Visiting with a specific tour company may be even more expensive, with one company College Visits charging around $2,000 per student for a trip to the Northeast.

The majority of colleges that students visit, especially the Ivy League schools, have extremely low acceptance rates. Even if a student has a strong application, the growing unpredictability of college admissions minimizes his or her chance of being accepted.

While visiting reach schools may help students narrow down their list of schools to apply to, this process can also be done by using online resources or having conversations with a counselor or alumni. The most that a college visit can do for a prospective applicant is to give him or a her a small glimpse of student life.

Moreover, college tours tend to be similar to each other. For most tours, a student or an admissions officer explains the benefits of attending that college and gives insight on the admissions process. After multiple tours, this speech becomes routine and boring. The genericness of these tours only serves to further confuse rather than clarify.

Some may argue that visiting a college is the ultimate demonstration of interest. However, for most colleges, demonstrating interest is not considered at all or at least, not as important anymore with the influx of applications each year. In addition, there are many other ways students can demonstrate interest in a much more cost-effective way, such as calling about specific majors or signing up for email lists.

Others may choose to visit colleges because they believe it would help them write their “Why [specific college]?” essay. While a college visit may help in this regard, there are in fact numerous other online resources that would provide information in writing these essays, including information about different majors and school culture, among others.

For a student who wants to see the buildings on campus, he or she can take a virtual tour which many colleges offer nowadays on their website. In an increasingly digitized world with vast amounts of information just clicks away, the importance of physically visiting has simply diminished to a point where it’s no longer worth it to shell out thousands of dollars on visitation.

While it is a waste of money for juniors and underclassmen to visit colleges, seniors who have already been admitted to a school have a lot to gain from visits. Unlike juniors and underclassmen, who are essentially taking shots in the dark, seniors are visiting with one main question in mind: “Do I want to spend the next four years of my life here?”

In the meantime, juniors and underclassmen should stay home and work on their chances of actually attending instead of merely visiting.

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