Most college campuses were closed for visits and tours during the height of the Covid pandemic. Vast resources were shifted to online admissions platforms, including virtual tours, information sessions, and interviews. With the return to more on-campus activity, the online options have been retained as valuable tools in this critical part of the college selection process.
RHSP strongly encourages students and families to see colleges in person whenever possible. It remains the best way to experience a school’s resources, facilities, and community for yourself. The virtual options can be used as a supplement. They are particularly valuable for a student considering a college beyond a reasonable overnight trip from home and to delve further in depth for information on colleges previously visited. For a list of highly resourced colleges within a 7-hour drive of New Hampshire, click here.
Whatever exploration format is chosen, advance planning is a must, as most colleges will require registration for programs and events. Recording and organizing your thoughts, questions, and impressions both during and after your visit is also highly recommended. A useful practice is to have one notebook with separate sections for each college being considered. Read on to learn more about college visits!
College visits normally include a campus tour led by a current student. Like a student panel, this tour is an opportunity to hear from someone who is knowledgeable about many aspects of the school and can speak to the college's academic and social life. Depending on the school, tours usually involve an academic building, a residence hall, the dining hall, and other facilities such as athletic centers, libraries, and performing arts centers. Tour guides are usually chosen for their enthusiasm and knowledge about the school, so pay attention during the tour and don't be afraid to ask specific questions; if your tour guide doesn't know the answer, they should be able to put you in touch with someone who does.
Some schools also offer specialized tours for certain aspects of academic and campus life, such as the sciences, arts, and engineering. If you're deeply interested in a particular program or major, research whether the college offers such tours.
Some highly resourced colleges do not offer on-campus interviews by admissions officers. In these cases, students who have applied will generally have an opportunity to be interviewed by an alumnus in their area.
Many colleges have admissions interviews that are either a mandatory/important factor in the admission decision process or are simply a chance for prospective students to ask questions one-on-one with an admissions counselor. It is highly recommended that interviews be done in either case—because, even in the latter case, it is an opportunity to make a good impression on someone who may be a part of the decision-making process.
Usually available starting the spring of junior year, admissions interviews provide an invaluable opportunity to meet face-to-face with a knowledgeable school representative and showcase your personality, passions, and interest in the school. While the concept of being "interviewed" may be intimidating to many, admissions interviews are merely relaxed and enjoyable conversations—they simply want to get to know you! Oftentimes they will ask you about the classes you're taking in high school, your involvement in your school and community, your interests and hobbies, and (of course) why you want to attend their college. The interviewer frequently will give you some time to ask questions, so be sure and take advantage of this and come prepared. For a list of common college interview questions, click here.
If you have questions regarding a specific major, program, or sports team, you can contact the admissions office to ask about arranging an interview with a coach or department head to talk in detail about the program.
While day visits to college campuses are a great way to gain insight into a school, a better way to experience even more areas of campus life is to plan an overnight stay. Some admissions offices will put you in touch with a student (sometimes one who shares your interests or anticipated field of study) who will host you overnight and take you to a class, practice, or rehearsal while you're on campus. If you're seriously considering a school, we highly recommend you look into staying overnight, as this is the best way to experience a true "day in the life" and sample classes, extracurricular life, and—perhaps most importantly—the college's dining hall.
When you identify a college that is worth visiting, you can take advantage of our fortunate location in the Northeast to make a two- or three- day trip to visit several colleges along the way. In taking these trips, you may stumble across a college that speaks to you more in person than it does in pictures or writing. We recommend our list of suggested college trips to maximize your campus visits.
Dressing for Interviews
Interviews with college admissions officers or alumni are an important element in the admission process at many of the schools to which RHS students apply.
Set out below are hints on proper interview attire that are summaries of several documents prepared by college advisors and admissions officers.
Dressing up never hurts, dressing down can. If the interviewer remembers you more for how you looked than what you said, you have lost the advantage of the interview. The truth is that interviews may differ in their definitions of “appropriate interview attire,” but it’s best not to base the success of your interview on how open-minded your interviewer may be.
The best general descriptions of appropriate dress for college interviews tends to be “business casual” or “smart casual,” for either of which an Internet search will produce endless suggestions. At the very least, you should aim to look a little more presentable and professional than you usually do. But make sure that you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing—and that it still allows you to look, act, and feel natural.
All clothing suggestions should be made with the intention of conveying an image of appearing neat and poised. Aim for simplicity. Be sure your clothing is clean and ironed, and avoid any that have holes, tears, or stains. In short, dress like the young adult that you are!
In the past, there have been semi-strict guidelines on how people of certain genders ought to dress in professional settings. For example, the conventional wisdom has been that boys should wear khaki or corduroy pants with a belt and a collared shirt or sweater—whereas girls have been expected to wear nice slacks or a knee-length skirt with a simple and modest top. Some of these recommendations could apply to you, but there are also a range of gender-neutral clothing options that may correspond more appropriately and comfortably with your gender identity or gender expression. We encourage you to explore the options in order to present a version of yourself that is both professional while authentic to who you are.
What to Wear, What Not to Wear
No non-collared short-sleeve shirts, shirts with slogans and logos (particularly of other colleges), blue jeans, non-dress shorts, hats, chewing gum, visible tattoos, or extreme piercings. No flip-flops, spiky heels, or sneakers; instead, opt for loafers, comfortable ballet flats, or boot leather shoes—and bear in mind that you may be walking around a fair amount if you’re taking a tour as well.
Hair styles should be as neat and presentable as possible. It’s advised to lean toward more “natural” hair colors, though it’s also worth noting that this will depend on the school and the student body. The same can be said about piercings (most earrings are acceptable, and nose piercings should be balls or studs), though if you’re able to take out more unconventional piercings, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
And lastly, wear a smile!