Junior and senior year are the busiest years for most high school students. From playing on a varsity team for the first time or taking a second AP course, many factors contribute to the pressure that students feel to raise their grades as they juggle activities that they hope will improve their chances for financial aid and scholarships. School nights are filled with hours of homework, but only after chorus rehearsal or soccer practice. Weekends fill up with even more practices, tutoring sessions, SAT testing, work, and maybe just an extra half hour of sleep in the morning.
Many students stay after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to see what colleges set up booths in the cafeteria. Although this is a chance to meet a representative from a school that may have caught one’s attention, this is nowhere near the experience that physically traveling to a school provides.
Walpole High School offers juniors two excused absences and offers seniors four excused absences to visit colleges. If the school is going to excuse these absences anyways, why doesn’t the school provide trips to visit nearby schools? Obviously, the school acknowledges that students are busy enough on the weekends and would have to cut into their school time to visit a school. However, who’s to say that parents can simply take off a day of work to take their child on a college tour?
If the school were to initiate a program in which a parent volunteer or a staff volunteer could take a few students to a college that they express interest in, many students would feel more at ease going into the decision process of their college experience. This would provide students and parents with reassurance that college applicants have fully explored their options before making the climatic decision to commit to college.
It is also more beneficial to see schools in person rather than in pictures and videos. Colleges tend to put forth their strongest composition of their facility on pamphlets and on websites. But the very chance that this singular photo or 30-second video wasn’t taken on one rare day, in which the weather was sublime, should not be ignored. In addition, pictures may not give an accurate depiction of the school’s culture. For example, a really busy location at the school will not be depicted as crowded in photos.
Visiting multiple colleges gives applicants the chance to see what type of community they are looking for. There are many schools in big cities, but one who has not grown up in highly populated area may misunderstand the area unless they go see it. Vise versa, one who graduates from high school in the city may not like feeling so desolate in comparison to what they are used to.
If students are not given the opportunity to see schools in person, many problems may arise. The school may not be a good fit, but that person would not know. The benefits of real life college visits are endless, and the students at Walpole in the decision making process could be helped a great deal.