The biggest contrast was between two schools that I saw back to back, Notre Dame and Oberlin College. Both schools are highly selective, with excellent academics, and yet, it would be hard to find two schools that are further apart from a social fit. Notre Dame is one of the most conservative Catholic schools in the country (the opposite sex is not allowed in the dorms after midnight), and Oberlin felt like a little bit of San Francisco transplanted into the farmlands of Ohio. Would I recommend both schools? Absolutely – but not likely for the same kid!
One of the reasons I spend so much time visiting schools is so I can help families plan their own visits. Sample questions I get asked:
Q. “Is it possible to visit both the University of Chicago and Beloit College on the same day?” A. Yes, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Beloit is about an hour and a half northwest of Chicago and Chicago traffic can be notoriously difficult.
Q. ”Where should we stay when visiting Kenyon?” A. The Kenyon Inn is delightful and it is right across the street from campus.
Q. “Do we need to visit every school before applying?” A. No, but it is very helpful to visit your top choices. That makes it much easier to write genuine essays that show why you would be a good fit at that school.
Q. “What if I can’t visit?” A. There are lots of ways to show interest and learn about the college. Reach out to the admissions representative by email or phone. Attend a college fair. Go to a presentation at your high school. Do the virtual tour on-line. Or, ask me! I have visited well over 50 campuses nationwide and have researched many, many more.
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