Experts take college visits too seriously, argues education columnist Jay Mathews for Seattle Times. Some firms encourage students to take copious notes, document every aspect of their experience, and track down any campus flaws, writes Mathews.
These recommendations send a clear message: college visits are a boring, but necessary, part of the application process, he argues.
But this guidance gets one thing wrong about prospective students: they don’t visit campuses to check off boxes on a list—they visit to explore and have fun. Many students even visit colleges while they’re on a family vacation, notes Mathews.
You can make the campus visit more fun and engaging by showing off your campus like a theme park, suggests Mathews. Show prospective students the “lovely vistas, amusing monuments, and restaurants that cater to youthful tastes,” he recommends.
And make sure the information you present to prospective students doesn’t sound too scripted. “Remember that teens often enjoy sharing with friends the dumbest things they heard from tour guides,” warns Mathews.
Instead, encourage your campus ambassadors and staff to have some fun and be authentic when they show prospective students around, recommends Sarah Stricker, an enrollment expert at EAB.
For example, allow student ambassadors to talk from an outline rather than a script, so they can speak relatively freely about their experiences in a way that sounds more authentic, recommends Stricker. You should also create opportunities for campus leaders to speak passionately and honestly with prospective students and families about the institution’s mission and what brings him or her to work every day, she adds (Mathews, Seattle Times, 10/5/18).