This week we welcome Associate Director for Guest Experience, Andrew Cohen, to the blog. Welcome, Andrew!
Back in November I wrote a blog post about moving to Atlanta over the summer, and how that move was a big step out of my comfort zone. I often think back on my initial interview and visit to Atlanta. I imagine my first visit to Atlanta felt similar to what many students experience when they visit college campuses. Once I knew I was seriously considering a move from New York to Atlanta, I realized how important it was to not only find answers to all my questions, but to also take the time to really get to know my (at the time potential) new city. From walking around campus to trying out the food, my overall experience helped me better understand what life could look like in this new place.
I’m now more than six months in and am working with our staff to prepare for our newly admitted students to flock to campus to see if Georgia Tech is the right fit for them. Whatever college you’re considering, it’s important to make your campus visit about more than just the standard information session and tour. Take advantage of these tips to help you make the most of your time on campus.
Allow yourself extra time to explore.
During my first visit to Atlanta, I allowed myself to spend an extra day in the city to better explore the overall feel of the area. If I was going to move here, I needed to know if I liked it. I explored the area around campus and different neighborhoods, and also experienced some of Atlanta’s local highlights, like Ponce City Market. When you plan your visit to campus, try to allow extra time to become more familiar with the area rather than rushing to visit another school or catching a flight home. After your “official” visit is over, further explore academic facilities for your intended major, eat on campus, or spend some time in popular places like the student center (don’t forget to eavesdrop while you’re there!).
Talk to Students
During your time on campus there is a real benefit to speaking with current students. This is a great way to get an authentic look at what it is like to be a student at the institution you are visiting. Whether it is the person behind you in line for food in the dining hall or a student employee working in one of the departments you visit, students are usually happy to chat with you. When I visited Atlanta for the first time, I had dinner with friends who lived in the area, and they gave me some great advice about moving from New York and living in Atlanta.
Build Your Own Visit
During my initial visit to Atlanta I wanted to be sure to experience some of the local highlights. I planned a full day of exploring, which included things like eating breakfast at the Silver Skillet, walking on the Belt Line, and visiting some of the downtown tourist attractions. Just like these extras that I was able to add on, it is important for you to customize your visit to make the most of it. When not restricted by time, you can make a whole day out of your time on campus, even if you are only scheduled to attend a 2-hour information session and tour. At many institutions, departments and colleges offer sessions about specific academic programs. Even if there is not a formal session scheduled, reach out in advance and talk to someone, as chances are someone would be able to meet with you.
Experience the Weather
This one is a bit more difficult because you cannot always visit during specific times of year, but it definitely is important to understand the weather you might encounter during your college career. I went to school in Upstate New York, where it is cold, grey and windy for a large portion of the academic school year. It is very different to visit there in the summer than it is in February. Although weather was not a big factor for me personally, if it is for you, make sure to plan your visit accordingly. If you are going to live somewhere for four years, it helps to know what it will feel like. (Although it does get cold in Atlanta, I have been enjoying the much milder winter!)
Ask for Advice
Prior to my visit to Atlanta, I reached out to a number of people to get advice. I got food recommendations, learned local lingo (like OTP and ITP), and learned more about Georgia Tech. Utilizing resources like your college counselor are crucial throughout the whole college decision-making process. Ask for their advice before you visit campus. They can help ensure you make the most out of your visit. They may be able to put you in contact with a student at the institution you are visiting, or share some information they know about the school. A conversation with your school counselor will help better prepare you for your visit, which in the end will result in a more informed visit.
(To all of the counselors reading this post – thank you for all of the work that you do with students, we really appreciate it. And happy National School Counselor Week!)
On behalf of all of the campus visit professionals around the country, we are looking forward to seeing you on campus over the next few months. Happy Visiting!
Andrew Cohen joined Georgia Tech in 2018 and currently oversees the guest experience for all Undergraduate Admission visitors. His love for providing visitors with informative, authentic and personal experiences started as a student tour guide at his alma mater, Ithaca College. Andrew’s passion for the visit experience has lead him to his involvement in the Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association, where he currently services as the Treasurer on their executive board.
If you would like to subscribe to receive blog entries when they post, please click the “Subscribe” button in the header at the top of this page or enter your email address. We also welcome comments or feedback @gtadmission on Twitter.