During my college search, I went on countless college visits. Sometimes it was an entire family affair - as my twin brother and myself were both looking at colleges at the same time. Family vacations and mini road trips were often planned around specific colleges.
These visits typically consisted of a brief presentation or meeting with an admissions counselor and a tour. For some of the colleges that were higher on my list, I tried to attend open houses or even overnight visit programs when possible. I wanted to try to really take advantage of my trips out to different schools - especially if they were farther away.
RIT was actually the very first college I visited. I went with my brother and parents to the admissions office for a counselor presentation, and followed it up with a tour (side note: I had the pleasure of working my tour guide from this visit when I was hired as a tour guide two years later). I loved the visit and could totally see myself going to RIT, but I was slightly hesitant to commit so soon. How could I fall in love with the first school I visited? I convinced myself to keep my options open and look at some more schools before committing.
In the spring of my junior year, the college search was really picking up. It was getting close to the decision deadline, and I had heard back from nearly all the schools I applied to. I had been accepted to RIT and a few of my other top schools. To make the decision, I decided to attend two open houses - the first one was at one of RIT's competitors (who I keep anonymous), and the second was RIT (naturally).
For the competitor's open house, I was invited to come a day earlier for an overnight program to get an "inside" look into the school and the students there. I was thrilled... until I got there. One, I was not prepared for the weather. This school was farther north than where I was coming from, and it started to snow... and I had no coat. It was a rough start. Following that, I just could not picture myself at the school and became more discouraged. The housing was not what I expected, and we all slept on the floor in a crowded room. The college students "hosting" us gave us a personal tour, but pointed out things I did not want to know - like George, the dead bird on the outside of a window that had been there for apparently several weeks. By the end of the weekend, that school had dropped to the bottom of my list.
A couple weeks later, I attended one of the Accepted Student Open Houses for RIT. I was excited to go, and the first thing I saw were all of the happy student ambassadors working the event. There were balloons, the pep band was playing fun music, and there was a free continental breakfast (I love coffee). I felt at home here, and it was so reassuring. During RIT Open Houses, you break up and go to your particular college to learn more about your department and/or major. Originally I applied as a Civil Engineering Technology major (I have since switched to New Media Design), and met with department for a presentation and lunch. My department ordered pizza for everyone and it was great - one week prior to this open house I had my wisdom teeth removed and had not been able to week solid food for a while... which may have added to my excitement over this free lunch.
That day I decided RIT was the school for me. I went to the bookstore and bought an RIT-branded hoodie - because that's the real show of commitment. My advice to all students who are in the midst of their college search is to try to visit a school. Visit more than once if you can! The one open house at the competitor school completely unsold me on the idea of going there, whereas the RIT one really confirmed that this was my #1 school. If you cannot visit, stalk the schools online (in a not creepy kinda way). Our Student Ambassadors write dozens of blogs - like this one - to help students get a better idea of what campus is like. There are videos, blogs, and social media channels to help you get a better look at campus if you cannot make it in person.
Hopefully, I see some of you at the next open house, and good luck with your college search!