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From The Desk Of Dr. Charles Murphy: May 31, 2013

It is important for students to begin visiting colleges during their junior year of high school. It is during these visits that they will be able to narrow down their list of schools to a more manageable number. Not surprisingly, many colleges consider these visitations in their decision-making process. If a student has not visited the school, the admissions office may question his or her true interest and commitment. In fact, for borderline students, it could be the reason why a student is or is not selected for admittance.    

Therefore, it is important that you sign in during one of these visits so the schools have a record of your child’s personal contacts. In many cases, however, it may be impossible for your child to see all of the schools on his/her list. Under these circumstances, it is essential that your child make multiple contacts with the college representative for our area.  

College admissions departments have regional representatives who visit high school guidance offices and attend college fairs with the sole purpose of recruiting the most coveted candidates for their schools. I strongly suggest that your child contact these representatives and schedule appointments while they are on their Long Island recruitment trips. At these meetings, the reps may be able to guide your child through a virtual tour to learn more about the school.   

Equally important, college visitations will provide students with the opportunity to evaluate what they think of a particular school. Naturally, your child needs to be comfortable with the academic and campus life as well. The college process is a two-way street — the schools evaluate your child and your child evaluates the schools.  

Nothing could be more painful than to spend “the best four years of your life” at a college that one absolutely detests. It has to be the right fit. For instance, I had a number of friends who wanted to attend college in a warmer climate, but they did not take into consideration that southern culture is not only different from the North but even more so from that of the New York suburbs. This cannot be learned by reviewing the college brochure but by visiting the school.

If this is your child’s junior year in high school and you have not started visiting colleges, it’s not too late. You’ll need to begin contacting schools to set up appointments, campus tours and/or interviews. Please make sure you schedule these visits during a typical week, so your child has the opportunity to assess what the school is truly like.  

Clearly, Homecoming Weekend or Springfest will skew the reality of any school. If you have additional questions about the college process, please contact your child’s guidance counselor.