By: Jackie Scollar , High School Junior
Touring Advice from Mr. Adam Exline, Co-Director, College Counseling at the Trevor Day School, New York City
Recently, I sat down with my college advisor, Mr. Exline, to gain some wisdom and experience as I begin the college process. Below is some excellent touring advice along with tips to help you narrow down your school list.
Jackie: For the student that has trouble making decisions and narrowing down where to apply, do you have any specific advice?
Mr. Exline: I think the first thing for a student who is struggling to make a decision, is to identify, to find that one thing that is really important to them. That could be a particular academic program or specialized school within a school. Do they want to be at a college that has a business school, a dance program, or a strong music curriculum for example? Then take another look at the list of schools and identify if that college has what they are looking for. I think it’s a smart place to start and then expand from there. Afterward, you can begin to narrow down the list.
Jackie: Do you think the location is an important factor?
Mr. Exline: For some students, absolutely. It is crucial that you have a hierarchy of needs. If the most important thing is the location of the school, then that has got to be right at the top, and that can help eliminate a lot of schools on your list as well. I think students are hesitant to remove schools because they want to have options. Yet, eliminating a few schools can sometimes be one of the best things and one of the most cleansing things. Crossing a college off the list can give you a much clearer focus on the schools that are remaining. Do not be afraid to let go.
Jackie: So what about your thoughts on social life?
Mr. Exline: I think that is one that should be important for everyone. These are the people you are going to spend the next four years with. It is very important when you tour to start a conversation with the current students, try asking for directions for example. If you are at a campus where people are unwilling to open up and start conversations with you, then that is probably not a good sign. You want to be in a place where people are open to new experiences and meeting new people. One wants to make connections, and hopefully, keep those connections for a good long time after you have graduated college. People talk about college as the best four years of their lives, and in a lot of ways, it is a great four years. The bonds you make with friends in college are connections you will have for a long, long time. You want to find people who are both similar and also hopefully different from you and can challenge you on some level; those things are absolutely crucial. As much as we talk about location and campus, I think the people that you go to school with really make the most significant difference. You will forget buildings, and you will forget classes’ years from now, but you will always remember the friends you made and the people you spent time with.
Jackie: So you told the junior class earlier this year that when touring a college you should look for things like the student-run college newspaper. Is there anything else you think that students should look out for when they are on campus?
Mr. Exline: You want to look at the bulletin boards, what is going on around campus, and see what students are potentially doing for their summer or internships. If there is a bulletin board outside the career services office or career counseling office, it is a great place to check out what companies are coming to campus. Ultimately, the point of college is to help you get a job and go into the work world, so you want to be aware of who is visiting the campus. Are companies coming to this university to recruit? You might not know exactly what you want to do yet, but looking through what type of companies are coming to campus, can help you decide. If you can get a look at the academic advising facilities, that can be especially important if you are a student who is undecided.