Archive for the ‘College Campus Tour’ Category

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 3

November 23, 2012 2 comments

 The Other Side of College Campus Tour 3

By James H. Choi
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Continued from:

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 1

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 2 College criteria students should be looking at are rarely found in campus tours — and they’re often misunderstood anyway.

As for the valuable university details, which sometimes slip into tours and upon which students should be basing their college choices — assuming they have any choices — students hardly ever understand the meaning of the terms used.  They are simply not likely to understand terms such as “faculty-to-student ratio,” “faculty availability,” or “undergraduate research opportunity.”

Therefore, during a campus tour while all this hard-to-internalize information is being thrown at them, students are of course likely to be daydreaming about that gift shop that awaits them at the end of the tour. (One student I took to a tour thought “undergraduate” meant an “underachiever” or someone on academic probation, and a “graduate” was someone she could be if she behaved appropriately at college.  For her, the admissions officer who kept discussing admission requirements for “undergraduates” wasn’t saying anything meaningful to her. There’s a snapshot of the campus tour scene for you.)

10. Campus tours are not “tours.” They are not “family vacations.” They are “missions.”

The college tour is a singularly stressful experience.  Many students guided by their parents are in un-cheerful moods because they’d rather be on real vacation. Trips often correspond with weekends or school breaks which reminds them that they should be having real fun that they are entitled to.  If they visit campuses in a peer group (which is how I take them), their mood is significantly better because they can ignore the tour more easily.  Their favorite time is at night at the hotel.  As their guide, I’ve had to quiet students down, break up their games, and get them to sleep on time to make sure they can wake up the next day to arrive on time at the next university — all to get to the next information session that they don’t care for.  In other words, I managed to foul up their mood.

If you go as a family, this type of tour exerts a great deal of stress to the family.  In no other vacation does a family cover so much distance in so little time while under so much time pressure.  Finding parking space in a new city under time pressure alone is enough to let the crack show.  Parents also discover that the only active interest their students show on any college campus is the gift shop.

Families must not approach the campus tour as a “tour” or a “vacation” but rather as a “mission.” This is “work” with a specific goal, which in the end is likely futile because a tour’s goal is supposed to be to help a student decide what school to attend, but the choice might likely never exist.

11. Wrong questions, wrong goals

What high school students should be thinking and deciding is what their career is going to be.  College is a stepping stone to reach that career goal.  If one can’t pinpoint a career, how does one then choose the best school for obtaining it?

But that’s a difficult question for anyone, especially for a high school student who still doesn’t have all the data.  Campus tours draw emphasis away from this salient and difficult question and substitute it for an easier but false one: “If  just need to focus on the vibe and comfort of the college, then your life will be fine.”

As many unemployed college graduates can attest, finishing college does not guarantee a thing.  To add to the insult, there are many high paying jobs/careers that go unfilled because the lack of qualified candidates.  Sometime, somewhere, somehow a massive number of students took a diverging path from these promising careers.  That fork in the road could have been the campus tour that blinded them from the real question.

12. The time and money spent visiting campuses could be better spent actually deciding and preparing for career.

College campus tour is not a magic and it will not solve any problems, i.e., it won’t work as a motivation tool, it won’t substitute as a career selection.

Yes, it is useful for those rare students who will have to choose among many admissions offers.  However, those students can do the tour AFTER they are admitted.  There are special gathering specifically for them offered by every college.  Our director Mrs. Monica Lee is a parent connector at MIT whose mission is to offer the inside information/story to those who are already accepted.  Thus, even for the top students, college tour before admission is not likely to change anything other than their closet filling up with college-branded apparels.

If you have money to spare, sure, college campus tour is as good as any other way to spend it.  However, if you are juggling a zero-sum budget, the time and the money can be better spent on exploring the real world to discover the career that would fit the student’s talent and interest.

Categories: College Campus Tour

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 2

November 23, 2012 2 comments

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 2

By James H. Choi
Source Link

Continued from: The Other Side of College Campus Tour 1 Students pick what college they want to go to based on what they hear about the school — before ever seeing it. 

From what I’ve seen, most students know what college they want to attend not because they visited or saw it, but because of the college’s reputation and the word of mouth from those around them. In other words, if a high-reputation and respected college accepts a student, he or she wouldn’t care if the dorm looked like a dump. That student would go. That student would be grateful that to be able to go.

6. Campus tour to choose the right college?  Will you have a choice?

The premise of taking many college campus tours is that your student will get to choose the one at which he or she would like to study. The key word here is “choice” — but will your student have a choice?

For most students, they would be lucky if they got accepted by one dream college; it is highly unlikely that any one student would be accepted by two dream colleges and have to make a “choice.”  Of course, such cases exist. I advised one student who had to choose between — get this — Harvard, MIT, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford.  But he/she was a rare case.  Most students will gratefully study at the campus of the best school that accepted them.  Even if they get to choose, it will be most likely among the college they never toured.

7. Information sessions are positively unhelpful.

Perhaps the most important part of the campus tour is supposed to be the information session. Every guided campus tour has an information session, which is a forum where admissions officers and sometimes current undergraduates talk to visitors and answer your and your student’s questions.  This is also the part most students least look forward to. Most wouldn’t mind skipping the information session altogether to get to that gift shop faster.  On every tour, I had a student whispering to me “Can we skip the information session and go to the gift shop instead?”

But the talk itself is a sight to behold: Even competitive colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton talk during these sessions as if they are trying to sell themselves.  For instance, Harvard’s information session devotes about half the time to current Harvard students who explain their campus life, how great it is, what kind of activities they enjoy.  Details about Harvard’s club activities, sports, and all these other plain things leave students believing Harvard is a wonderful vacation spot!  You can easily miss the acknowledgement that the academics are competitive, which is mentioned only in passing.

How pointless!  All students I’ve ever taken to the Harvard information sessions would choose Harvard even if its campus were like a prison!  Despite this well known fact, the information session dedicates so much on promoting Harvard as if they the speaker was facing an skeptical or downright hostile audience.  Interestingly, there is hardly any mention on what it takes to be accepted to Harvard.  Those who entered the information session seeking specific information on the admissions requirements always leave empty handed.

8. Information-session speakers relentlessly positive, even when they shouldn’t.

Here’s a question that gets asked all the time at information sessions:

Student: “Can I apply without knowing my specific major?”

Admissions officer: “Sure! College is all about finding yourself, experimenting, and realizing what your potential is.”

The above might be the single-most asked question in all information sessions and illustrates the large number of students who are unsure what they want to study in college. Many go simply because this is their time to go. Our society’s clock is pushing them into college, not because they want to go or are ready to go.  Nonetheless, every college’s answer to the above question is a resounding, “Sure!”

Harvard released statistics regarding how many students are admitted under an “undecided major.”  For the class of 2016 admissions, that number is 0.7 percent.  That’s right, less than a percent.  However, a much larger percentage applies as “undecided,” I was told unofficially.  Applying and accepted as an undecided major is likely to lower your chances drastically.  I asked about this to a Harvard admissions officer, and her reply was: “Undecided major is a someone who will excel at any major.”  In other words, “undecided”  is not for those who are not sure what they are good at.  It is for those who are too good in too many fields.  You would not have noticed from that cheerful “yes” reply.

No matter what outlandish questions you ask, the admissions officer’s response is usually positive and ends in “you should apply.”  You need to recognize that the main point of the college information sessions is to get your student to apply.  The more of them apply, the lower the admissions rate.  The lower the admissions rate, the higher the ranking.  If you ever walked out of an information session full of hope, then you know the information session was a success.

Continued: The Other Side of College Campus Tour 3

Categories: College Campus Tour

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 1

November 23, 2012 2 comments

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 1

By James H. Choi
Source Link Sabio Parents,

If your budget doesn’t allow you to take your student on college campus visits, don’t worry.

Your child will not be at any disadvantage. The upsides of college campus tours are well-known, endlessly repeated by those in the tour business and those who want to bring students to the college by impressing a future applicant (i.e. your student).  But these people have nothing to gain by mentioning the downsides of the tours.

So nobody has mentioned them — until now.  Please allow me to count the ways.

1. The college campus tour does not work as a way to motivate older students.

If a student is old enough to realize that he/she does want to go to college (i.e. a junior or senior in high school), then it is too late.  Top American college/university admissions require notoriously long term planning — starting at 6th grade.  What these juniors and seniors realize on the tour is how lacking they are.  Therefore the college visit results in a feeling of despair and regret and perhaps a depressive “down” feeling.

Sure, some of them are already prepared and these tours would help them select the campus they like the most.  However, these students will get in anyway without the tour, and impression they get from these tours would not reveal much about what they will actually face once they are enrolled.  I will not mention these “will get in anyway” types of students for the rest of this article.

2.The college campus tour does not work as a way to motivate younger students to study harder.

Now, if a younger students (i.e. someone in 6th or 7th grade) visit those campuses, that is an ideal age because there is still time to do everything to qualify them for these elite universities. But here is another problem: These students are too young to care.  They probably care only about the campus gift shops. For these students, college campus tour is only an sub-optimal, pointless, boring vacation destination.  It is an unreasonable to expect a child disinterested in books to be impressed by massive volumes of books in singularly hushed air of a university library.

3. A student is rarely the right age for a college campus tour.

To work, a college campus tour must be taken when students are at the right age —such an age is a balance between having the right number of years left in high school and the right maturity to appreciate the opportunity — but overlap is very thin, thin to the point that it does not exist.  Even in the unlikely case that the students get motivated to study harder to get into a particular college, you have to ask yourself about their motivation:

First, “What did the student see that they liked so much?”  At the campus, students see only one season out of the four. If the students are impressed with the summer scene, they could be depressed with the winter scene, and vice versa.

Second, “What did the students actually see?”  Buildings! Is there a building so impressive that you would bet your life (or your student’s life) on being inside for four+ years?  If so, should they choose their career also based on buildings?

4. People, not campus buildings, shape students at college.

The actual influences colleges exert on students is done by the people there, not the buildings at all. Yet the only people you meet on a college campus tour are admissions officers, or current students selected by admissions office — people who are chosen to make good impressions on potential applicants, people you and your student will never see again.

The famous professors and Nobel-prize winners of illustrious universities? You will not see them during your college campus visit; in fact, your student will not see them during his or her first college years. (They are busy doing research. Who has time to speak with college undergraduates?)

On a college campus tour, the representative will guide students along the facilities and might poke their heads into some classrooms or take a tour of the dorm, but these are — or should be — minor points in deciding one’s university.  The most important factors — how students will actually gain academic knowledge (e.g. teachers and curriculum) — is completely omitted from a campus tour.

Continued (how to get free passwords)

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 2

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 3

Categories: College Campus Tour
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