Visiting colleges without leaving school

Representatives provide knowledge, head-start in admissions


Zoe Ziessman

Luther College Regional Admissions Officer Mimi Delrahim prepares for a college representative visit at Park.

Danny Shope

As the first quarter of the year has gone by and more people are talking about college admissions, junior Jack Mintz said he took advantage of representative visits to get a jump-start on the college process.

“I wanted to learn more about colleges I’m interested in and get a feel for looking at colleges, even though I’m a junior,” Mintz said. “By getting a foot in the door, I thought these visits would be a good way to start that.”

College representative visits are a way to meet admissions officers and get important information about post-secondary institutions without even leaving the school. During these visits, college representatives come to Park and students can sign up for information sessions with them during the school day. According to College and Career Coordinator Kara Mueller, college representative visits are a great way to see what a school is like without actually visiting campus.

“You get a feel — it’s almost like it’s an instinctual feel (for the school): ‘Did I feel comfortable talking to this person? Do they really portray the values of that school? Is that really the right fit for me?’ Those kinds of things,” Mueller said. “Your gut feeling about (representative visits) are one of the ways you can find out what it is, and the other way is to actually get on the campus.

Even if a school is not the right fit for a student, a visit with a representative from that college can still be valuable, according to counselor for the Class of 2022 Heidi Cosgrove.

“Maybe if you go and hear about a school, it will solidify the ‘no’, and that will help you know what you’re liking and what you’re not liking,” Cosgrove said. “Sometimes students are like ‘I don’t know what I want to do,’ and just going to hear information (is helpful), because the reality is, information is power, and to empower yourself with that knowledge is so important.”

You get a feel — it’s almost like it’s an instinctual feel (for the school): ‘Did I feel comfortable talking to this person? Do they really portray the values of that school? Is that really the right fit for me?’”

— Heidi Cosgrove

Mintz said the visits he attended were well worth the time because they gave him important information.

“I learned a lot from them, and it was helpful getting to walk through what the colleges are like rather than reading online,” Mintz said. “Having somebody who knows the college really well explaining what it’s like — the classes, the majors, how the school was set up — I found it really useful to have it explained to me and be able to ask questions with somebody in real time.”

According to Cosgrove, these representative visits are also valuable beyond narrowing down what schools to apply to. In many cases, they can help students make a good impression on admissions officers.

“Many times these college reps are part of the admission cycle, so anytime a student can meet with a college representative to put a face to a name (is helpful),” Cosgrove said. “Just a ‘hello my name is blank. I’m applying to your school and I have some questions.’ That personalization right there is just another positive in their application.” 

High school students are faced with huge, difficult decisions in the college process. According to Mueller, it’s crucial for students to remember who they are and what they value when it comes to college visits.

“‘What do you know about yourself?’ Share what your interests are, share how you learn and then ask them, ‘how do I know this is the fit for me? What can you do for me?’ It’s a big decision, and you want to come out with the feeling that you’re on the right path,” Mueller said.

Students can sign up for college representative visits on Naviance and other helpful college information can be found on the College and Career Center Homepage.