02 May Accepted Candidates Day – A Good Time to Visit
Accepted Candidates Day – A Good Time to Visit
I recently attended Accepted Candidates Day at Skidmore College with my son Philip. I am proud to say he is now a member of the Skidmore Class of 2018! Since last attending an accepted students day with my daughter in 2010, I have gone back and forth about whether or not these days offer the best experience for students who are trying to make their final decisions about which college they would like to attend for the next four years. These events can be somewhat chaotic due to the large groups of parents and students on campus and hence the long waits for food and to talk to individual faculty members, coaches, etc. I offered my son the opportunity to visit Skidmore on an alternate day when things would be calmer, but this was the day he wanted to be there. So off we went!
First Year Experience in London
As part of his acceptance, Philip was offered a choice of starting his freshman year on the Skidmore campus or attending London as part of the London First Year Experience (FYE). While London sounded very exciting to him, he had some questions about requirements for his major and the ease/difficulty of transitioning back to campus as a second-semester freshman. Prior to our visit, I had urged him to be proactive and call the London Program Manager to get some of his questions answered. She in turn gave him the names and email addresses of several students that had participated in this program. He emailed two of the students and their replies were almost instantaneous! In fact, one of them friended him on Facebook and suggested that they get together if he decided to visit campus. Philip then emailed the Chair of the Exercise Science department to find out how the London Program might affect the requirements for his major. She asked Philip if he wanted to connect with a student in the department that had been in London and within a couple of hours of him saying yes, he heard from this student.
Reaching Out to Current Students
As we were making plans for our trip, Philip reached out to both of these students and set up times to meet with them. We arrived at Skidmore the night before the Accepted Candidates Day and stayed in downtown Saratoga Springs, a wonderful area for both parents and students alike. By arriving early we had the chance to explore the local area, becoming familiar with Skidmores surroundings.
The Day’s Events
The next morning, we arrived in time to check in and take a morning tour of the campus. Later, we were privy to a student panel. I realized that this is something that we would not have experienced had we visited on another day. It was great to hear the questions raised by both the parents and students. A panel gives prospective students a chance to hear answers to questions they might not have remembered or thought to ask. It was also enlightening to see the diversity of the students themselves as well as the diversity of their academic and extracurricular pursuits.
Next we sat in on an abbreviated lecture from a psychology professor, then headed down to the Sports and Recreation Center where there were tables set up for coaches, administration and each of the academic departments. Based on my past experience, I expected it to be chaotic and to have to wait in long lines to speak with coaches and professors. That was not the case and Philip was able to meet and talk to the Chair of the Exercise Science program that he had reached to prior to our visit.
Lunch required patience There is one dining hall at Skidmore (with some of the best college food I have ever tasted) and all at once prospective students and their parents descended during prime lunchtime hours. There were no available tables for sitting/eating and the lines for food were incredibly long. We found the one food station with a short line, took whatever they were offering and found a quiet(ish) counter where we could stand and eat. No matter we would be meeting one of the girls here for dinner.
Later on, Skidmore offered a choice of a Bus Tour of Saratoga Springs, a General Campus Tour, a Science Facilities Tour or an Arts Facilities Tour. We had been looking forward to the Science Facilities Tour but found out that the guides would not be heading down to the Sports and Recreation Center (where the Exercise Science Labs are located). We headed down there ourselves, hoping that the Chair of the department would have some time to spend with us. As it turned out, she gave us a tour of all the labs, explaining the different research currently being done. I was thrilled to see that Philip, who never shows a lot of excitement, was incredibly excited.
The last organized event of the day was an a cappella performance after which we met with one of the two students that had been to London. I could see as the conversation progressed that Philip was getting more and more excited. She is also a member of Hillel and before leaving, she invited him to join their group later that evening to make chocolate-covered matzoh! Next, we hit the bookstore for logo wear! So much to choose from that I had to give him a budget! We met the second London FYE student for dinner and this time we found a quiet place to enjoy the delicious food and conversation. She was joined by another friend who also did the London program, so he had twice as much input. Then it was time for him to join the Hillel group. What a great way to end his day!
From a parents (or college consultants) point of view, I would have to say that visiting Skidmore on Accepted Candidates Day was worthwhile, as there were activities unique to that day that gave us insight into the culture of the campus.I asked Philip if he was glad he was there on Accepted Candidates Day, or would it have been just as beneficial to have visited on another day. His response surprised me a bit. While the experiences that he had with the current students and the individual time that he had with the Chair of the Exercise Science department clearly cemented his desire to attend Skidmore and the London Program, they could have been arranged for another date. When I asked him why that day in particular, he told me that he really enjoyed listening to the Dean of Admissions and even more so the President of the College.
My advice: if your schedule allows for you to attend an accepted student day, do it! But try to make individual arrangements with faculty members and/or current students in an area of your teens interest(s), to give the visit a more personal feel.