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Prepare your students to meet with visiting reps

Representatives from college admission offices visit high schools around the country to present informational programs to prospective students, parents and counselors. What is your role during these visits, and how can you help your students get the most out of talking to college representatives?

Benefits of college rep visits for students

Explain that during their visits, reps meet with interested students in small groups to discuss topics such as the academic programs, campus life, financial aid and admission procedures of their college. They also answer students' questions; 20 Questions to Ask College Representatives can provide a starting point for your students.

With so much information already available on college websites and in catalogs, your students may wonder why they should attend these in-person sessions. Below are six reasons to encourage students to meet with college reps.

  1. Students have a chance — in their own town — to meet face-to-face with a rep and ask specific questions.
  2. Students can let the college know they are seriously interested.
  3. In many cases, the reps are admission officers from the college, so students have a unique opportunity to make contact with a person who may be evaluating their application in the future.
  4. The meeting provides students with a specific contact at the college to whom they can send questions.
  5. Sometimes reps, particularly ones from state universities, will give an early read on students' transcripts, test scores and course selections during their visits. This helps students assess their fit at that institution and figure out what they can do to improve their chances of getting in.
  6. It's an opportunity for you, as a counselor, to bring to your students’ attention a college that you think is a good fit but that the student may not have considered.

    Who should attend the college rep presentations?


    Some schools permit only juniors and seniors to meet with the reps. On the other hand, "We encourage sophomores and juniors to participate for long-range planning," says Bill Yarwood, an experienced guidance professional in New Jersey. "Too often students don't focus on college until fall of senior year when they have so much else to do."

    Since many districts have strict policies about releasing students from instructional time, Yarwood advises that schools find ways to include visits that don't disrupt the school day. In some districts college visits are scheduled for the last period of the day. Or reps may be set up in the cafeteria so students can meet with them during lunch or free periods.


    College rep visits provide ideal opportunities for counselors to learn more about colleges. Sitting in on as many sessions as possible enables a counselor to provide students with information they missed or didn't understand during the visit. If students at a session are shy, ease the tension by asking a few questions to get the discussion going. Later, you can help students distinguish between marketing hype and useful facts.

    Additionally, a counselor should be available to greet college reps when they arrive. A friendly, interested counselor leaves a lasting positive impression.

    Be sure to get copies of recent materials from the rep to update your files. And make sure all college reps receive these items from you:

    • A fact sheet with useful statistics about your school
    • Your business card
    • Directions to other local high schools


    Parents can learn more about colleges that their children are considering. Some parents play a very influential role in the final decision a student makes about college. College rep visits allow parents to ask questions and gather additional information that enables them to make educated decisions together with their child.

    Students should join in when their parents meet with the reps; this is a decision that affects their future. Schedule meetings during the evening for parents who cannot make it to school during the work day.

    Benefits of college rep visits for colleges

    Colleges have reasons for sending reps to high schools beyond simply advertising to prospective applicants. The reps have a chance to evaluate the high school and see if its students are a good fit for their college.

    Another reason has to do with assessing "demonstrated interest," in which an admission officer judges which students are most interested in attending their college, and admits applicants partially on that basis. This is one way to increase a college's yield (the number of students accepted who actually enroll), which gives them a higher ranking on some scales.