There are just 10 more days until spring break, one of the prime times for high school juniors and their families to visit colleges. GMW got some expert advice from Stephanie Klein Wassink, the founder and CEO of  Wilton-based Winning Applications and Wassink’s company has a free College Tours Tracker available just by emailing and asking for one. Here she explains why it’s a good idea to use one and what you should expect on your visits and tours.

Why “track” college tours?

While it seems like it will never happen while you’re on a college tour, trust us, it will–colleges will begin to run together in your mind. Were those sidewalks covered in colorful chalk at Cornell? Was the painted rock on Northwestern’s campus, or did you see that at the University of Michigan? Where did you have that delicious ice-cream made on campus from campus cows?

Though taking notes during a college visit can be relatively easy (if you have paper and pen handy, or are constantly vigilant about making entries in a “notes” app right away), organizing and retaining those notes and keeping track of what you want to specifically remember about each school…isn’t so easy, especially the more college tours you take.

That’s why we designed our College Tours Tracker. This “template” lets you enter important information and impressions in a simple, user-friendly format that will allow you to compare schools “apples to apples.”  It is the perfect tool for taking notes not only in each sit-down college information session, but also on each college tour–albeit, it’s a little more difficult as you walk!

When you take notes, be sure to identify unique college traditions and other detailed examples which will come in handy when you write your supplemental application essays, such as, Why Lafayette or Why NYU. The specifics you cite will give the admissions officer the message that you did your research, and that you are not just choosing Lafayette, NYU or any other college out of the blue, but rather here is why you feel XYZ University is a great school for you, and here is how you see yourself fitting in on campus.

Another great feature is that the College Tours Tracker allows you to “grade” each school you visit on its facilities, programs, resources, atmosphere, and so on. So while XYZ University may get an A for school spirit, the freshman dorms may get a C.

With respect to note-taking, I would also suggest enlisting your parent(s) or other family members or friends, if they go along with you on the tours, to jot down their thoughts as well. Two separate groups of notes are better than one, especially when there is so much to see, hear and absorb.

Worried about losing the College Tours Tracker? You are going to be collecting a lot of papers and “swag” on your college tours. (HINT:  Some schools provide tote bags, some don’t, so it’s a good idea to take one with you.)  If you think you might misplace the College Tours Tracker before you even fill it out, take a picture of it now. Definitely take a picture of it after it is filled out at the completion of each college tour. Then, when you are ready to narrow your school list, you will have data at your fingertips on what you actually liked (and didn’t like) about each school.  This information will help you ultimately make the decision about where you’ll want to apply, and “hand” you the detail you need to write persuasive, entry-worth supplemental essays for each college you choose!

For more information, contact us at 203.762.6500 or via email.