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Oakes's Corner

The Campus Visit

By Oakes Hunnewell, Ed.M., CEP

For many juniors, spring time is an opportunity to visit college campuses across the country. If prospective students are able to do so, campus visits can help them determine what colleges are a good match. Furthermore, in a time when applications have increased due to the ease at which students can apply, colleges view campus visits as an indication of their thoughtfulness and genuine interest.

The main purpose for the campus visit is for students to experience aspects of colleges that cannot easily be seen through books and web-sites. It is important to explore academic opportunities. It is also crucial to discover the atmosphere and culture on these campuses. If students are not happy socially, there is a much greater chance they will not be successful academically. According to University Language Services, an online web-site focused on how to choose the right college, “you’re going to spend the next four years of your life on campus. The right social setting will make you a happier student, and your happiness is definitely something worth taking into consideration.”

Campus visits are divided into two segments, the tour and the information session. During the tour, it is important that the prospective students pay attention to student life.
They should pay attention to the following-

  • amount of students seen around campus
  • general expressions on the students’ faces
  • places where students congregate
  • general level of activity taking place on campus
  • visibility of student organizations around campus
  • reaction of students as they walk by the touring group
  • what the students look like- athletic, artsy, edgy, intellectual looking
  • dorm rooms- show rooms vs. lived in rooms

There is no doubt that the central focus still remains around academics and resources available to the students. During the tour, prospective students should also make note of-

  •  the facilities in their preferred area of study impressive
  •  the classrooms- small, discussion based or large lecture halls?
  • students in the classrooms- focused or distracted
  •  the library- a social gathering or a quiet place to study

Note that a ten o’clock tour may be an entirely different experience than a two o’clock tour. Students sleep a lot. Morning is not their preferred time of day.
Preceding or following the tour is the information session. This is an opportunity for prospective students to hear about the college from an admissions representative. Generally, the admissions representative will highlight key programs offered by the college and will go over the application process. Prospective students should listen for-

  •  some unique features about the college
  • programs offered that have not been mentioned in other information sessions
  • study abroad opportunities offered by the college
  • alternative calendars such as a mini semester (January term), block schedule or a co-op
  •  internships and research opportunities for undergraduate students
  • learning support resources provided for students needing help

Many times, the information session will be followed by a time for questions. If any of these questions or any others the prospective student may have were not addressed, this would be an opportune time to pose them.
Spring and fall of senior year are good times to visit. Regardless, students should do so before their applications have been reviewed. Admissions offices make a note of who has visited campus. Students who visit are generally viewed as serious about their interest in the college.
Next month’s newsletter will explore the college interview, mostly offered at smaller liberal arts colleges. Feel free to contact me with any additional questions you may have.

School of the Month

L’Ecole d’Humanité -


The Ecole d’Humanité is located in Hasliberg Goldern, Switzerland. The stunning natural setting provides both a wholesome learning environment and exceptional opportunities for hiking, skiing, climbing, and other outdoor activities.

Students are at home in fifteen “families” in the Ecole d’Humanité. Each family is headed by two or three teachers and lives in one of the school’s houses or chalets. Families eat together in the common dining hall. Once a week they spend time together playing games, cooking, or working on projects. Living in a mixed group including students of both sexes and various ages and cultures helps everyone to see beyond stereotypes and to appreciate individual differences. The comfortable atmosphere in the families helps new students feel at home within a short period of time.

Students at the “Ecole” take charge of such important tasks as organizing weekend activities, delivering firewood, taking care of the donkeys, and running the library and the fire brigade. Some are active in the Student Council or involved in peer counseling. Everyone participates in the weekly school meeting, which is chaired by a student. Here students can address both individual and community concerns, learning to find their own voices within a public forum.

The Ecole d’Humanité strives to realize a simple, environmentally responsible lifestyle. By strictly limiting both material and electronic consumerism we attempt to create a space where students can engage directly and honestly with other people, with our common cultural heritage, and with the natural world, and where they are free to discover and explore their own unique strengths and passions.

The “Ecole” offers both Swiss and American academic programs. The American Program leads to a High School Diploma and includes preparation for the College Board SAT exams, for which the Ecole is an official testing center. Students can also prepare for exams leading to the AP International Diploma and entrance to universities around the world. It is truly an international experience with just 10% of students coming from the United States.

For more information, please contact June Vinhateiro at 401.782.8682 or call Oakes Hunnewell at 781-697-7075.