The College and Career Center at Jefferson offers visits both virtual and in-person from representatives of various colleges. These visits, which happen during lunches and 8th periods, are available to juniors and seniors. Most schools followed a general structure for these visits: each representative gave an overview of the best features and application process of their school, followed by a Q&A session.
Among the biggest supporters for attending these visits are the colleges themselves, painting a picture of a way to gain more valuable insight into the college. Colleges highly recommend students attend visits so that schools can introduce themselves first-hand and advertise any highlights to convince students to apply. Visits can also gauge demonstrated interest, which some colleges use to track how likely a student is to attend their school.
Since these visits were so highly recommended, I signed up for a few of these visits. Some of these visits were helpful, but others… not so much. While helpful to introduce many of the colleges, they talk about much of the information that can also be found easily online. Some of the sessions can be helpful because of their Q&A sessions, but besides that many feel like nothing more than a surface-level marketing technique for their universities, listing rankings and statistics in lengthy presentations. For example, during one visit, the presentation lasted around 35 minutes, and did not leave any time for students to ask questions without missing class.
Another thing I noted was that because many of the presentations were almost overly polished, they were not truly representative of the culture surrounding the school, or gave off a different impression than talking with alumni did. It might be unfair to judge a school by a single person who represents them, but I had expected to learn more about the schools’ individual quirks and culture. Some schools did bring alumni with them, which made the presentation seem more genuine.
The variance in the quality of these sessions was eye-opening. In order for the sessions to truly be helpful, representatives should carve out time specifically for questions. It would also be helpful to bring a TJ alumni who attends their school for students to talk to. Although these sessions may not have been representative of a school’s culture, it does garner some perspective. After all, if a school cannot adequately think out how they will present themselves to me, a prospective student, how can I know if the school will live up to their reputation when I choose to attend?