kitchen table math, the sequel: the college tour done right

Monday, January 28, 2013

the college tour done right

K9sasha on her son's college tour:
When we went looking at colleges, we had the option to arrange ahead of time to spend time with a professor at University of the Pacific. Once on campus, Dr. Saviz spent a couple hours with us telling us about the engineering program, showing us her lab, and answering all our questions. We left there with a good feeling about the school, and it is where my son decided to go. He's been happy with his decision.
All colleges should do this. All colleges, bar none.

11 comments:

K9Sasha said...

We also pre-arranged to talk to a professor at University of Portland, although the talk was less satisfying. At Stanford and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, while we were wandering around and poking our noses into various parts of the campus we ended up running into a professor at each school who took the time to talk to us and answer our questions. Since we were able to talk to a professor at four out of the five schools we visited, I didn't realize being able to do so was such a unique and precious thing.

K9Sasha said...

And I got the professor's name wrong. It should be Saviz, not Savitz.

Catherine Johnson said...

Thank you! I'll correct the spelling now (I should have checked myself...)

K9Sasha said...

I should have checked the spelling of the professor's name before writing the first post, especially since she's my son's favorite professor.

ChemProf said...

Most schools will do this, but you might have to ask admissions. I got a tour from the Chemistry department head when I was looking at Harvey Mudd a million years ago, and I've met with many prospective students over the years. I actually give a "science tour" of our building each April on prospective student day, to give students and parents a chance to talk to a faculty member and to talk about our curriculum, as a way to particularly recruit science folks.

Anonymous said...

One of my kids was looking at one of the service academies and was being recruited on the basis of academics, although he was likely to be able to play two varsity sports, as well. He was invited to attend the first campus visit opportunity, which apparently meant that he was a first-tier prospect (according to friends whose daughter attended). My DH noted that all of the head coaches were there to collect their recruits, who were hosted by team members, but none of the professors were there for academic recruits and they were not hosted by kids in their anticipated major. My son's host did his best, but he was an English major (hadn't known academies had those)with little knowledge of my son's math/engineering field and the lab/practical facilities that interested my son were all locked. His host's second-year coursework was less demanding than my son's HS senior coursework, as my son said his physics, "calculus" and Spanish classes were all stuff he had done as a junior (pre-calc, honors physics and AP Spanish language). I'm sure the STEM kids had much different classes, but my son was very unimpressed and withdrew his application the next week. It was a very poor way to recruit top academic prospects.

SteveH said...

My son is interested in physics and a couple of years ago he was reading a book on string theory by a physics professor at Princeton. It turns out that the professor also played the piano and that the department has a yearly recital for students, staff, and faculty. We contacted him directly and asked if we could visit and talk even though my son was only a rising sophomore at the time. He said yes. Although the meeting never happened, he also put us in touch with an professor who taught a course on the physics of music. At another college, we contacted a professor directly and he agreed to talk with us. These were not low-level professors. I don't think it would work if we had to go through admissions.

I think about my old department at UofMichigan and all of the senior professors who would be glad to meet with student prospects (well, some professors, at least). You just have to contact them directly and give it a try. You may have to adjust your schedule, but departments at large universities can be very friendly. We used to have picnics. I used to go sailing with one of my professors.

For performance music programs, it's common practice to directly contact a professor you would like to study under in his or her "studio". You go there and (pay to) have a lesson to see if both you have some connection.

Bostonian said...

I don't think professors should be expected to give up two hours of their time to talk to any prospective student. If all applicants expected this the professors would not have time to do anything else.

As a practical matter, when the most selective schools have far more applicants than spots, they don't need to do this.

Catherine Johnson said...

I don't care about a personal tour given by a professor, but I DO care about being allowed to sit in on a professor giving a lecture.

That should happen on all college tours as a matter of course.

I'm buying my child an education, not a membership to a gym.

Allison said...

Catherine, I'm confused by your "allowed to". I have never heard of anyone not being "allowed" to sit in on a class---at any school, you just walk in. The issue is simply that the people who run and work in admissions departments aren't academics. they are alums, usually, who enjoyed their school experience. So they plan events according to what they think students value, or should value, rather than on what would promote academically minded student culture. If departments ran admissions, as they do for grad students, the focus would be on academics, research, etc. and accepted prospective students visit labs for that very reason. in places where depts DO run admissions--small lib arts programs, music programs, etc., the focus is on those values, not just amenities.

MIT has/had a similar problem, but with freshmen arriving on campus. The idiots in charge decided that the very first thing a bunch of intellectually minded nerds should do is spend their time picking where to live, based on how the other students party. Instead of taking these kids and instantly immersing them in an intellectual and creative feast for the mind, showing them the depth and breadth of available exploration and innovation, they had them rush frats and living groups. now, some of that has been eradicated, finally, after enough drunken deaths, and some significant changes in living arrangements, but admissions depts still think about amenities not academics when selling their school.

and financially, which makes more sense to the school? limiting oneself to the intellectually curious? or those who want to have lattes?

Trish @TheOldPostRoad said...

A professor at Georgia Tech spent one-on-one time with us. At least an hour. Our daughter chose Tech due to that meeting.