Navigating College Admissions
Episode 1 : Building a College List Transcript
00:00 Jack W.
This is navigating college admissions. I'm Jack Wanberg.
I'm a recent alumni working in college admissions at the University of Chicago and in this show we're going to walk you through each step of the college admissions process and hopefully answer some of your questions along the way before you go to college, you have to apply to college and before you apply to college, you have to decide which colleges to apply to.
I sat down with Veronica Hauad, Deputy director of admissions at the University of Chicago, to learn what to watch out for when building a college list.
So I've been doing a little bit of research in preparation for this episode and one of the things that I've discovered is that there are a lot of colleges that people can go. How do you begin looking for a college that's a good fit for you?
00:54 Veronica H.
I think students often miss the really crucial first step, and that's getting to know themselves before you do your college search. You have to spend a little bit of time being introspective and thinking about your strengths. An what you could do better, and what you really love and what you really don't want in your life going forward. I think if you take that time that will help the college search. Go much more smoothly so I always tell students that first step number one. Dig in, get to know yourself. It's something that many adults haven't taken the time to do, so you're way ahead of the game. If you do that. But that's that's always my first piece of advice. Get to know yourself because from there you will know what you want and need going forward as you look for those colleges.
01:34 Jack W.
Right, so let's say I've gone on this introspective journey up into the mountains. I've discovered who I really am. How do I apply that to a college? What's the most important thing to look for in a college when I know what I want myself?
01:49 Veronica H.
I think once you've done that important work, then it's fair. Once you know yourself and you're ready for the process. It's fair to really think through. To the deal Breakers. So I always tell students. I'm sure there is a thing or two that is an absolute deal breaker as you think about your future and how happy you'll be at the college or University that you end up at. So dig into that. And are you know is your deal breaker related to money?
Do you know that you need a certain amount of financial aid or scholarship? So that may help you craft your list in a very intentional way. Is it size or setting of the school? Is that you know a mission commitment that the school has made or something in their history? Have you already found what you want to do is? Is it a very specific academic goal? So I think it's fair for everyone to have one or two things.
That is what I say is the deal breaker, and you can kind of start to craft your list from there. I absolutely want this, or I absolutely can't have that, and from there it will help you whittle down, you know the thousands of colleges that are out there, which ones will really speak to those needs.
02:56 Jack W.
What are the best ways to find out about these schools once I know these dealbreakers, once I know exactly what I'm looking for, what's the best source of information?
03:08 Veronica H.
We wow we're living in a time of plentiful information. Every college has an admissions website where you're going to get basic info there. You can sign up to be on their mailing list. You can get info there about events that are happening in your hometown but also in other places. May be things that are happening on the web so you know. First. First stop should usually be that main college or university's admissions web. And once you know you like what you see, you should probably sign up and get on their mailing list.
You're just missing opportunities for communication there. If you don't, we're also living in the age of social media so that every college has Instagram pages and podcasts. Now you know, all these cool ways that you can just just hear and see and really get to understand the school on a personal level. Well, I think social media gives. Flavor it gives personality like you can really tell a lot the way schools build their their Instagram pages, for example.
So I encourage students to also think about social media and what colleges are aren't doing in those places locally at your school you often have either that counselor or coordinator or teacher. Someone who has that prior knowledge and knows.
This process they are wonderful resources, so even if someone in your family or community doesn't have that knowledge, you have those school based professionals who can help you with all of that. What do you think is the best way for a student to go about picturing themselves on a campus and experiencing the daily life of 1 school versus another?
For some students, right when time and resources permit, college visits are ideal. Realistically, you're probably not going to be able to visit all of the colleges that will end up on your list, and that is just fine. We don't expect you to.
But there are colleges and universities in your area that you can take advantage of an you should be out there. You should be visiting. You know early on, maybe very early on in your search you can just go by just go see the physical place. But we all hope in the end that you do sign up for registered visits, so there is usually an option to sign up online for a tour information session, some kind of event that the campus is happening. Is having there are plenty of colleges that will hold summer programs? You can come and take courses on a summer college campus. They may have special flying programs to bring you to visit their campus as juniors or seniors of high. School many of these programs are funded right for the right students or students of different backgrounds. They'll fund some of those opportunities, so students should always be looking for those different websites. Asking college reps at college fairs or people who visit your high school sending emails. Many times, we're the ones who are trying to make that visit possible.
05:52 Jack W.
So when I go to visit a college, should I have a set of priorities in mind when I'm going into it, or should I let that college visit kind of shape my expectations?
06:04 Veronica H.
Like I said earlier, I do think the college hopes that you will register in a formal way for whatever program is happening on that campus. They want to know that they saw you. They want to show you all the wonderful opportunities. So you want to register.
Ideally, if you're doing formal college visits, formal college visits will have a standard format, so they will kind of layout what you get to do or what options you get to choose from. I think you should definitely do the formal visit. Take advantage of what they're offering. But I encourage students to go off that beaten path just a little bit as well.
When you're doing the visit. If you find some free time, you know go sit on that main quad and hear what other students are talking about. Go see what life looks like in the dining Hall. I think it's really crucial that you pick up a college newspaper at any school that you're visiting. You will have an intimate look at what students care about on that campus real time.
If you're not doing a college visit, that's fine. All of these newspapers now exists, you know, on the. But you know, do the formal visit and then just veer off on your own for a little bit to just soak it all in. I don't want you to miss the formal opportunities, but I don't want you to also miss the opportunities casually happening around you.
07:15 Jack W.
The question that I would always ask at the end of a college tour is I would ask the Tour Guide what their favorite place to grab a bite to eat was because that helped me get a really good sense of just the kind of student. Layouts that would be around the campus? Yeah, that's perfect. So I'm building this list of colleges that I like. How do I narrow that down? How long should this list be? How long is too long?
07:42 Veronica H.
Uh-huh, that's a. It's a tough question. I always hate to throw an actual number out there. For every student, it's going to be a little bit different, right? You might have a student who falls in love with the school they commit to playing under a binding early decision contract they get in. They enroll. It's done for that student. It was actually one list or one college on the list. That was it. For others, there are a lot of different factors they're weighing, and they're going to have more schools on their list and have more decisions to make. And that's just fine too. So it's it's difficult to give a hard and fast number. It's going to depend on the students you want to make sure that you build your list out to capture those needs. When we dug down and decided what we needed going forward, did you capture that? If you need financially, do you know about the financial aid policies at the schools you're applying to? Do they meet full need? What is the process to apply? If they have scholarships, are you automatically being reviewed? Do you have to submit something to qualify to be applying for the scholarship? So you do want to make sure that whatever needs you had, you're covering that in your list. The actual number though, will vary pretty widely from student to student. What do you think is the most important thing for a student to keep in mind when they are building a college list in the early stages of the college application process? At least from what I've seen, I think your list starts out big. Maybe it's a little bit smaller as you go.
You know I've worked with friends and family members as we build out. Let's start out really broad here. Wants the absolute deal Breakers. That doesn't mean you're going to see yourself being completely happy and successful on each campus or you want to keep each campus on your list. But let's start with this big list and whittle it down from there.
09:24 Jack W.
Thanks. Thanks for listening to the first episode. Navigating college admissions if you want to continue the college conversation, feel free to email us at college admissions at uchicago.edu or follow us on Twitter at V. Chicago or on Instagram at Uchicago admissions. Good luck and happy appin'.