Should Schreiber allow for more than three excused college visit absences for juniors?

There is nothing cookie-cutter about colleges.  Every school has a unique personality and feel, and that personality changes as students come and go.

Choosing which college or university you wish to attend is no easy task, and touring them is a long and necessary process.  It is important to know what you want in a school.  Big or small?  Sunny or snowy?  Close to home or far away?  Do they offer my major?  What will my major even be?  Even these basic questions can seem overwhelming and confusing. 

Then, there are the intangibles.  The feelings you get just being in a place – the vibe of the students, the atmosphere on campus, and the charm of the town.  These are things that you can’t get on a virtual tour or at a college fair.  The best way to gain some perspective is by visiting those colleges that interest you.  

Without physically going to a campus, students miss out on a crucial aspect of the decision process.  You can research questions like “What is the area of LIU Post like?” but it won’t tell you how long it will take you to get from class to class or what it is like to walk to get food.  You cannot get an accurate representation of your ideal campus life if you cannot experience it first-hand.  

At Schreiber, the administration understands the importance of in-person tours, and they allow juniors three excused absences for college visits.  This is a good start, but it is not enough. It is not enough time for students to see all the schools they wish to visit.  

Since I was little, I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go to college.  I had every intention of pursuing this as my endgame.  This summer, I toured several colleges that offered summer visits (many do not).  I visited a school that was not high on my list but that a friend thought I would like.  She was right. 

The second I walked on campus, I knew this would be a perfect school for me.  It was so different from everything I thought I wanted.  Before the visit, I thought I would go to a school in an urban environment with a demanding curriculum and lots of students.  What spoke to me were small, liberal arts schools that challenged me and my way of thinking.  It isn’t that I gave up my previous ideals, but I just realized the better fit for me. 

This led me to understand how seeing a school firsthand helps to offer a broader perspective, not only of what you want, but what you don’t want.  

“It is extremely important to visit a variety of schools before you make your final decision, as this choice can significantly impact your life.  Three schools do not provide this variety,” said junior Nate Elbaum.  

After visiting three schools, you may have a good idea of what type of school would be best for you, but it still isn’t enough to know where you will apply.  Most counselors recommend applying to at least two safety schools, four target schools, and two reach schools.  If you, therefore, have eight colleges in mind, you would only be allowed to see three of these schools while school is in session as a junior.  What if the other five do not offer tours on weekends or breaks?  Well, then, you are out of luck.  You will have to just apply and see what happens.  

This seems illogical when there is a straightforward solution: allow more excused absences for juniors visiting colleges.  Everyone has different needs, and no one applies to the same amount of schools.  There is no set number of colleges every student will see, so just have your guidance counselor approve the visit and make a wise decision.  

“Juniors will get the opportunity to learn more about colleges the year before applying.  Do it at your discretion and do not make it excessive, but otherwise, it is okay and very necessary,” said guidance counselor Ms. Vanessa Garcia.  

After all, this decision paves the path of your life, and it is a decision that only you can make.  Rushing the process without enough time or research is a disservice and precludes you from making the best decision.  It would be a shame to apply to some colleges, visit the ones you were accepted to, and then dislike them all because you didn’t have the opportunity to do so before you applied.  Junior year is the most critical year for college.  It makes sense that we visit colleges now rather than next year. 

I have seen quite a few colleges, and still, I am struggling to create a set list of where I want to apply.  Each one is different in its own way.  Many of my peers feel the same. 

“I have already visited three colleges, and I feel that I am not yet ready to decide on where I want to go.  Seeing a school is a big part of deciding which one you want to attend, so three visits are not enough,” said junior Savannah Aarons.  

Once you exceed three college visits, then what?  You may feel obligated to make a decision you are not ready to make or take unexcused absences, which are harmful to your transcript. 

As a community, we should not rush the process.  Students should take the time necessary to do what is best for their future.  Clearly, unlimited days off is not the answer, but working with their guidance counselors, parents, and teachers could help students devise the best plan for them.  Where you go to school is such a big decision.  Where do you want to start your own path?  Where do you want to learn and grow as an adult?  Where do you want to call home for the next four years?  Three days won’t tell you that.  Therefore extending the amount of excused absences for college visits is so important.