Like many parents in our community, my wife and I had our two children go to an after-school etiquette program during the fifth grade. We got past the actually moaning and groaning and had them ready to learn more about how to interact with others. I can still remember sending my now college senior son to his first day with a pre-tied necktie in his bookbag, only to have him come home with the tie pulled up tight against his neck above his actual shirt collar. Seriously, it was the strangest sight ever. I should have known then that he was destined for a more casual, less proper life – just like me. While my kids only went through one year of this program, both of them did learn a few manners, my son understood how to actually tie a necktie, and hopefully some of the etiquette did sink in.
In the same way that there are certain etiquette rules for social events, interacting with others and dining at restaurants, there are also certain steps you can take when visiting colleges. While many students might have already starting visiting colleges by now, a large number of you will be attending admission events during your senior year. This could involve campus tours, visitation days, open houses and the like. Here are a few suggestions on how to make sure the visits go well for everyone involved. Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with table manners, how to bow, or how to drink tea properly.
- Make a reservation – While you don’t need to always schedule an official visit to a campus, things generally work out much better when you plan ahead. Sign up for the campus tours well ahead of time, especially if it is for a visit in March/April (key Spring Break times) or during the summer. Showing up unannounced can add stress, not only to your own party but to the admission offices. You don’t want to visit a college only to be told the tour is full or the office is closed that day. If you are going out to a nice restaurant, you probably want to make a reservation ahead of time, right?
- Alert the college if there is a need to cancel – If something comes up that causes you to not be able to attend a scheduled tour/event, let the admissions office know about it. Many times, space at these events are in high demand, so letting the college know of a change in plans can free up space for another student/family to visit. Many times, the emails sent confirming the visit also have instructions on how to chance/cancel a visit. If you make a reservation at a restaurant and then just don’t show up, the front desk is going to waste a great deal of time calling out your name and holding a space for you unnecessarily.
- Hold questions which are not “large audience-appropriate” for later – At any admissions event, we love questions. We truly enjoy talking to both students and parents, and you asking questions helps us direct the conversation towards meaningful discussions. But at times, there are questions that should be held onto until a time that is more one-on-one. One of the most awkward times my wife and I had at a restaurant was when the couple next to us starting loudly berating the waiter about the wine options (they even suggested one wine that should be on the list which we had seen in a gas station earlier that day). I think the entire restaurant heard this discussion, and it would have been much better if instead they had requested a quiet talk with the manager. In the same way, if you have an issue with how decisions are made or if you have somewhat personal questions, I suggest you talk with an admissions person on the side at a later time. It makes it much less awkward for everyone.
- Give feedback – At the end of the day/event, admission offices generally send out surveys for visitors to complete. We are glad to hear back from you about the day, and your thoughts and ideas can help us in shaping future events, either by making changes or by keeping some things the same. UGA is not a college which bases our decisions on “demonstrated interest”, so feel free to give us your honest opinion on how things went on your visit. Responding to our surveys means that you cared enough to let us know how you feel.