College Visits in Action

By Mr. Jake Doll, Director of College Counseling and Asst. Head of the Upper School.

As I return from a week of college visits and conference time in Boston, MA, I am reminded of how important it can be to treat colleges and universities like the products they are. Would you buy a car without a test drive? Would you rent an apartment not knowing what it looked like inside or what the surrounding area was like? It is important to make an informed decision about the college or university you will be calling “home” for the four years after high school. The campus visit should be a fun and valuable way to learn about each institution.


I enjoyed touring campuses this past week. I visited MIT, Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • Did you know that MIT has over 40 designer/builder/maker spaces on campus? They are the equivalent to the area of 2.5 football fields!
  • Harvard isn’t just the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, but it also has the second largest library in the U.S. with four floors located underground.
  • I visited Boston University and Boston College on the same day. I was so excited to see BU’s contemporary feel, numerous programs, and accessibility to so much right nearby. BC was beautiful and had a true prestigious feel. Though BU’s undergraduate population is about twice the size of BC’s, both schools have similar admission rates at about 30%.
  • Northeastern was the perfect example of how a tour guide can make all the difference. My tour guide, Jack, was as knowledgeable as most admission officials and he knew how to tell his story and the stories of his peers. If you don’t know what a co-op program is, check out Northeastern’s. They have an excellent program.
  • While visiting Tufts, I heard an admission person say something that can help guide any student. When writing that important college essay, “just simply write the way you speak”. Being you is key, even to a small research institution with an admission rate of under 15%.

If I took one thing away from my recent visits in Boston, it is that even the most prestigious institutions value the liberal arts. It was evident that each institution provides opportunities to expand yourself beyond your passions, and the available resources for the schools I recently visited are enormous. The cool thing is, I learned this while immersing myself in the locale, people, transportation modes, sights, and FOOD. Staying near Chinatown and South Station proved to be very beneficial, and it was by design. I took the time to plan my visits and you should too!

Maclaurin Building

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