Monday, August 31, 2015

Visiting Campus: Part 2 - What to See on Campus?

When you do a campus tour through the Admissions Office of a college or university, they have specific areas of campus they will show you. These will include academic buildings, dining facilities, some athletic areas and usually a Residence Hall. Because of their tour, you may think there is nothing left to see ... FALSE! If you do your research before you visit the campus, you should have a list of spots you want to see on campus. 

Your list of specific places on campus will help guide your tour so that you get the most out of your campus visit. When I was visiting the colleges I applied to in my undergrad, I knew I wanted to see the university's dance studio, hockey arena, and library, so I made sure the tour guide took us there. If it wasn't part of the tour, I asked my Admissions Counselor how to get there and my parents and I toured it ourselves.

Depending on your prospective major, here are some places you may want to visit:

video production lab
art studio
chemistry/biology labs
newspaper room
upperclassmen dorms

Also, don't just confine your tour to campus, be sure to take a drive through the town in which the campus lies. Check out the coffee shop, deli, bookstore, vintage shop, park, and the other interesting places in that town. This could be where you spend four or more of your "growing up" years, so not only are you marrying the college, but also the town it's in.

Your campus tour is the chance to see what you want and what is going to help you make your college search process easier and eventually help you make your admission decision, so make it yours!

enjoy the chase,

Friday, August 28, 2015

Visiting Campus: Part 1 - When Should I Visit?

Hi everyone and Happy Friday! For those of you who have started school, I hope your first week went well! For those of you who don't start for a few days or even a few weeks, enjoy the last little bit of summer.

An important topic when discussing the college search process is visiting college campuses. Visiting a campus is one of the most important factors in deciding to apply to the college and even deciding to enroll at that university. Because of its importance, I am doing a four-part series about visiting colleges! Please feel free to leave questions or comments in the comments section and I will be sure to address them!

Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
 Part 1: When should I visit?

Open House vs. One-on-One Visit
Colleges, especially during the Fall and Spring, have many large visit opportunities for prospective students. These Open Houses offer information sessions, campus tours, and the ability to meet with faculty and other staff members. They usually offer a lot of information and these are really great for a first visit to the campus. A one-on-one visit is a visit that you schedule yourself with the Admissions Office, usually it will just include an interview and a tour of campus. It will typically be just you and the tour guide or you and another family, so the tour can be really customized to what you want to see on the campus. Also, if you miss a day of school for a college visit, ask your Admissions Counselor if you could get a notice from that university to give you an excused absence.

Go When Classes are in Session
A campus can have a totally different feel when students are on campus from when they aren't. Seeing how the students interact with each other and with other faculty and administrators will show you what your experience could be like on that campus. You also might be able to sit in on a class if you visit while classes are going on. Talk with the Admissions Office about being able to sit in on a class when you come to visit. If given enough notice, they can usually plan it for you!

Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
Junior year vs. Senior Year
If you know a college or two that you like and plan to pursue, visit those colleges in the Spring of your Junior year. A lot of universities will offer a Junior Open House in April, so take advantage of that! They will offer information sessions about the college but also about the college search process in general, so that will be useful! Visiting the campus in your Junior year will also help you decide if you still want to pursue that college. You may see that after visiting the university that the campus doesn't fit your personality, so no need to spend more time pursuing it than necessary! Going your Senior year is best for your second visit to the institution. (I will discuss more about the 1st vs. 2nd visit later on in the series.)

If you have questions or comments about when you should visit a college, please feel free to leave them in the Comments section and I will address them later on in the series! Have a great weekend everyone!

enjoy the chase,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wish I Knew Wednesday

"I could scream about not taking advantage of travel abroad opportunities. I will never have that opportunity again."
Amanda R., 23, Abington, Massachusetts

One important thing about your college search process is that if you know that you want a specific opportunity in college, you need to find a school that offers that. Sometimes, we don't know that we wanted that opportunity until we are at that university and see it in front of us, but if you want to do something, this is the time to do it. 

Almost all four year colleges and universities offer study abroad programs to their students. Each institution will have a different format and process for traveling while in school. Some will have the traditional semester or year-long programs, while others will have shorter programs for third terms and summer semesters. No matter the set up, it is important to research the destinations of these trips and the process for getting accepted into that study abroad program and travel experience. 

In my case, both colleges/universities that I heavily pursued in my Senior year of high school, offered study abroad programs. Specifically, I wanted trips to France or French-speaking countries. (French was one of my majors) One institution offered a semester-long trip where the class spent time in Canada, France, and Senegal. The other offered a five week trip to Paris. Both universities though had study abroad opportunities to other countries and locations, so I knew that these universities would be a good fit for the experiences I wanted out of college. 

My first suggestion when researching a college is to browse their website and the different aspects of it, ie: Campus Life, Diversity Office, Athletics, Study Abroad, Work Study. You'll also want to look at the student newspaper's website to see if they discuss students on study abroad programs. My second suggestion is that if there is something you think you might want to do in college, pursue it more and ask the college's Admission Counselor to explain more in depth about those opportunities on campus. Also, don't hesitate to ask a tour guide or a student phone caller when you get the chance!!

The two or four years that you spend in college are some of the best years of your life; before you are married, have kids, are employed full-time, have more bills to pay ... etc. Take advantage of every opportunity that a college education and college experience can give you, but most of all ...

enjoy the chase,

P.S. Living in Paris during the Spring of my Sophomore year was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I was already paying the tuition, so the fee for the trip was only a couple thousand dollars more (which is cheap compared to the cost of travelling independently). You make amazing memories on these trips with people who become your best friends! Disclaimer: My parents and I saved for this from the time I graduated high school until the day I left for Paris.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Should I Go to College?

Hi everyone, so I wanted to do a really candid and honest post today on the subject of going to college in general. When I was in my undergrad and doing student teaching in some rural school districts, a lot of my students would say that they don't plan on going to college, they don't want to, they don't know what they would go for ... etc. So I wanted to address that today. 

First and foremost, I am a firm believer in a college education. I have seen the way that it can improve lives and families and how it can help teenagers/young adults mature and grow into their own through college. As this is the career I have chosen, working in higher education, obviously I strongly believe in the opportunities that a college education can give people.

However, I do realize that college is not for everyone, whether they truly know they won't be successful in college or whether they are just discouraged by leaving high school and don't believe in themselves. With that being said, there are plenty of options, outside of the traditional, four-year, living on campus education. 

It is perfectly okay if you choose not to go to college, but you do need a plan to help provide for your future and for the future of your family, if that is what you choose in the long run. One option is going to a BOCES/Vocational Technology program. 

These are offered through your high school and also through an Adult Education program. To save time, you can plan for these options early (the end of your sophomore or junior year), but there are graduates who will enter a program after they graduate high school. With this option, you typically get a certificate or license out of your program. For example, the Cosmetology programs will end with your license to cut and style hair and you can then be employed with that. Also, the CNA program will end with your certification to be a Certified Nurses Aid and be able to work within a Nursing Home or Hospital. The programs offered through a BOCES or Vocational Technology program are all really great options that can prepare you for a successful career, if you aren't pursuing a college degree. (Additionally, you can always go later on to college for Business, to open your own salon, or Nursing to become a Registered Nurse.) 

If you don't feel that college is right for you, that is fine, however you will need a certificate or license to help you find a job/career right out of high school. Do some research on options in your hometown area and discuss these ideas (once thought through) with your guidance counselor right away! Although you may not be Chasing College, you can still be chasing an education!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. We're on twitter! Find us at 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We're on Twitter!!

Hi everyone! I have some exciting news for you all. Chasing College is now on Twitter! Stay up-to-date on all of the newest blog posts on social media!


I will also be sharing interesting articles or topics that may be helpful in your chase for college!

The twitter handle is: @Chasing_College  Follow us on Twitter to keep informed of all the important topics discussed on this blog!!

enjoy the chase,

Wish I Knew Wednesday

"I wish I knew how important your GPA is while in high school and college."
Brianna B., 23, Hollis Center, Maine

"How important is my GPA?" is always a tricky question to answer for students. In my experience working in Admissions and being a student phone caller, a lot of times students will ask, "My grades aren't the best, how important are they?" Colleges and universities look at a plethora of characteristics about each student before they make their final acceptance decisions. 

Ultimately though, your Grade Point Average (GPA) does matter. It will determine the types of scholarships you receive, what programs you can get in, and your life at college. Succeeding in academics is hard work, whether you graduate Valedictorian or not, especially at the college level. So, getting a jump start on creating a study routine with your classes can help you through the rest of your high school and college experience. 

In high school, your teachers are right there during your study halls, lunch periods, and homerooms, so the opportunity to ask questions is right in front of you. Use them to help improve your grades if you are not satisfied. Look into extra credit assignments or extra projects you can do to lift your GPA for that class too. 

In college, however, you need to seek your professors out. Each professor will have "Office Hours," where they sit in their office with the door open and hope for students to come and ask questions. This is a great opportunity to work with your professor if you are having trouble in the class. You can discuss a paper you need to write or an upcoming exam. Additionally, each university has a tutoring center where you can request a tutor for your class (usually this is an upperclassmen who did well in that course). They also may run workshops for students on topics like note-taking and reading strategies. In college, seek and use these resources to improve your GPA.

If your GPA isn't where you want it, discuss this with your Guidance Counselor or your Academic Adviser to create a plan to improve your GPA for the future plans you have. Don't be discouraged because it is possible!

enjoy the chase,

Monday, August 17, 2015

Virtual College Fair - Review

Happy Monday everyone! I wanted to share with you all my opinions/experiences on the Virtual College Fair that was held by College Week Live. There were three different components: School Profiles, Presentations, and Group/One-on-One Chats with College Representatives. 

School Profiles
    Each college that participated in the event has a profile with information such as major/programming offerings, scholarship information, methods of contact to admissions representatives, and videos of each institution's campus. 

Profile for Champlain College

My suggestion for using the profiles on College Week Live is to watch the videos that are uploaded, as well as, look at the 'Fast Facts' about the university to gauge whether you want to pursue this institution further.  The profiles also offer links to different aspects of their websites. 

    Throughout the Virtual College Fair, different experts presented on topics related to the college search. I watched the presentation entitled, "Safety, Reach, and Realistic Schools," by Jessica Tomer, Editor-In-Chief of Carnegie Communications. It was a really interesting presentation with a different frame of viewing the colleges that you apply to. 

Presentations like this one by Jessica Tomer, are uploaded frequently on many different topics on the College Week Live website.

Group/One-on-One Chat
    This is a really unique feature of the Virtual College Fair because many different universities were available to chat with, like you were at an in-person College Fair. I entered three group chats just to see how the conversations were going; one with Syracuse University, one with UCLA, and one with SUNY FIT. The larger universities at the Fair had more than one representative, which I think worked well because they were able to answer more questions. Also, not only did they personally answer the questions (not like a robot!), they also offered specific links on their websites that those students may be interested in following. 

Syracuse University Group Chat

SUNY FIT Group Chat
I also did a one-on-one chat with a representative with SUNY FIT. If you have specific questions that you want addressed and you don't want to discuss them in the group chat, the one-on-one chat is a good option. However, if the group chat is busy, there is a chance that those representatives are also busy with other chats, so be patient while waiting for the answer. 

Overall Review: In general, I think that the Virtual College Fair is a good option if you are unable to travel to a larger in-person college fair because the variety of colleges and universities that were at the Virtual College Fair would be far more that those at a normal college fair. This is also a great way to not become too overwhelmed by all of the tables and information booths at a normal college fair session.  I hope that if you attended the Virtual College Fair that you were able to find some colleges that you hope to pursue further! Any comments about your experiences are definitely welcome!!

enjoy the chase,

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wish I Knew Wednesday

Hello everyone! I hope this week has been treating you well. I wanted to introduce a new series to you today known as "Wish I Knew Wednesday." This is a series that will be published on Wednesdays with what real high school and college graduates wish they had known throughout the college search process and I will provide my tips and suggestions for how to combat these questions/issues early on!

"I think knowing about getting a job on campus to have money would have been nice to know more about." 
Logan T., 24, Afton, New York

When you start visiting different universities and taking college tours, you will begin to make a list of questions/information you ask about at each college campus. If you think you will be needing a job while enrolled in college, that is definitely something to ask the tour guide and an Admissions Adviser about.

Some colleges/universities only allow those students who have Federal Work Study listed in their Financial Aid packet to have a job on campus, while others will allow any student to work. (Federal Work Study usually works so that the money you make on campus will go directly towards your student bill.) While on campus, you can also ask the tour guide where most students on campus work, whether its at a coffee shop in the bookstore or in one of the administrative offices. 

Additionally, it is important to note that students always have the option of getting a job off campus, such as a retail position at a local shopping center. This money will not go directly towards your tuition and will be handled as a normal job at home or during the summer. One important thing to note though is that a job off campus is usually not as lenient as an on-campus job would be when it comes to exams, school breaks, and personal emergencies. Most often you also will not need to rely on transportation if you work directly on campus. 

Working within your college community is definitely important to bring up with your Admissions Counselor when you discuss the issue of financing your degree. They may have more suggestions that specifically fit that college campus too!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. Don't forget the College Week Live Virtual College Fair is tomorrow from 2:00pm to 10:00pm!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Who should write my recommendations?

As you begin your college applications, you will eventually come to the major question of "Who is going to write my letters of recommendations?" This is a question that will plague your mind from the moment you select those references until after you've received your admissions decision from the colleges to which you applied. Here are some things you may want to consider before selecting the teachers, administrators, and mentors to write your letters of recommendation!

1. Look at the application requirements - For certain universities, they will require specific letters depending on the major/academic program you hope to enter. Oftentimes, if you are entering a science or mathematics program, the university will require a letter from a science or mathematics teacher. The same can be said for a prestigious English or Foreign Language program.

2. Think about the classes you excelled in - This is a no-brainer; you will want a letter of recommendation from someone who can speak highly of your scholastic ability, your desire to challenge yourself academically, and your general personality. Typically the classes you did well in in high school will be those same classes whose teachers' you are in good standing with. Consider these teachers first as possible references.

3. Think about the classes you didn't excel in - Also a no-brainer, a teacher who genuinely did not enjoy having you in class nor seeing you in the hallway will not write a great letter of recommendation for you. Unless you absolutely need their letter (Look at Tip #1), do not even consider using these teachers as references. ** Sometimes a teacher whose class you did not perform well in, but you challenged yourself in, can write a good letter of recommendation. But, use your judgement carefully.

4. Bosses, Coaches, and Clergy work too - Some universities offer options besides just two teachers for letters of recommendations, ie: one academic reference and one personal reference. These letters are just as great at supporting an application. Typically a coach, boss, or pastor can provide more details about your personality traits and what attributes you may bring to a college campus. If you feel that their observations of you will better support your application, then definitely add a letter of recommendation from them into your application!

5. No family members - Family members do not hold much credibility as a writer for a letter of recommendation. Even if you work under an aunt/uncle or your dad was your baseball coach, this should be your last resort for a letter of recommendation. Use an assistant manager or an athletic trainer who can still attest to your ability and your leadership skills. * If it is a real issue, such as your mother was your only upper level math teacher and you need a math recommendation for the Physics program, then I would call the admissions office at the universities where you plan to apply and inform them of this "conflict." They may allow this letter or may provide you with an alternative option.

Now that you have decided who will write your letters of recommendation, be sure to ask them with plenty of time before the deadline. I suggest asking each reference and giving them about a month and a half to complete their recommendations. Some of the teachers, especially those who are well-liked by your classmates, could have ten to twenty letters to write for your Senior class. You will need to provide them with the information about how the evaluation form will be coming. Common App recommendations will be delivered to the teacher electronically, however if it is a physical letter that the reference will be sending, be sure to provide them with an addressed, stamped envelope so that they can simply send the letter out without any hassle. Finally, send a thank you card to those people who write your letters of recommendation to thank them for their time and effort.

Who are you asking to write your letters of recommendation and why?
Leave it in the comments section below!

enjoy the chase,

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Before Freshmen Year

    The summer before your Freshmen year of college can be one of the best summers of your young life. You are busy celebrating your and your friends' accomplishments, taking vacations with your families, and making as many memories as possible before you leave home for the first time.
    This can be an exciting time, however it can also be filled with much anxiety, nerves, and questions ... Am I going to like the school I chose? Will I change my major? What if my roommate is messy and inconsiderate?  Below I give you some tips on making your summer before your freshmen year of college exciting, memorable, and prepared for the school year to come!

1. Spend time with your family - As silly as that may sound, things will change in your house after you leave for college. Relationships won't be exactly the same, as you assert more of your independence and transition into acting more of an adult. Play that game of kickball with your younger brother, go on the camping trip into the mountains, stay home for a game and movie night, and be totally consumed by your family while you're in that moment. After you move into your dorm in the fall, these memories and relationships will help you with your transition, so nurture them while you have the chance.

High School Graduation 2010

2. Maintain your passions - Whether you danced in high school, played three sports, sang for your Church choir, or just loved running, continue those passions into the summer. All of these activities provide a support network for you and are a great thing to continue even into college. They will help clear your mind when you need a break from studying and they also might provide you your first college friends! Take the summer dance class, do the required workouts for your soccer team, and continue singing! Keep these healthy habits going because they will be even harder to break once you start classes.  * FYI: Joining a club or sports team as soon as you arrive on campus can really help avert homesickness. 

3. Enroll in the Early College Program - If you are invited to enter any early programs at the college, whether they be through an EOP program, the Honors program, or through a sports team, enroll in and complete them. These programs will help ease your transition into college. They will bring you together with like-minded people and will provide you the resources you need to be successful for the next two to four years. Yes, it can be tough to leave for college two weeks before all of your friends, but the experience you gain from the programs and their mentors will really help once the fall semester begins!

4. Attend Summer Orientation - Most orientations are mandatory, so don't even consider not going to them. This is usually when you will register for your classes, fill out your housing survey (which will be used to match you with your roommate!), and meet the professors in your major/program. You will also get a lot of good information, like where to buy your laptops from, how to register for on-campus parking, and which building would be best to live in! This is the first step that makes going to college REAL. Go with an open mind and take it all in. (Take notes during those information sessions because you won't remember a thing once you get back home.) 

5. Enjoy Every Second of Summer - Take a walk with your sister, go blackberry picking with your grandfather, camp outside, go on a road trip to all of your colleges with your closest friends, read the summer reading for Freshmen Writing, attend as many graduation parties as possible, prepare your resume for on-campus jobs, make good decisions, snuggle with your dog on a rainy day, tell your parents you love them everyday, take pictures (and print them for your dorm room wall), and make as many lasting and unforgettable memories as possible.

My graduation gift from my parents was to go on our French Club's
 trip to France the spring/summer before I went to college.
What an experience!!

This summer begins an entirely new chapter of your life; embrace it!

enjoy the chase,