By Corey McMahon, ´11

College visitations in the UA College Center offer students a much-appreciated opportunity to meet with admissions counselors and compare the offerings of various universities. Students can ask questions, discuss the college application process and much more. Although the benefits are numerous, many students participate in the visitation meetings because of an unintended benefit: the meetings excuse them from class.

Senior Kevin Jenq is among those who have used these college visits as a means to establish contact and learn about colleges.

“There were schools that I didn’t know about, but my parents and [others] had suggested might be a good fit for me,” Jenq said. “I went to some of them and learned a lot.”

Senior David Mehrle has been told that he should attend as many meetings as possible.

“Everything I have heard from colleges says that visiting and meeting [university personnel] is beneficial towards admission,” Mehrle said.

But some students have been abusing the privilege and attending more college visits than just those in which they are interested, often picking college visits on days they have tests or quizzes in their classes.

Counselor Allen Banks believes it is unavoidable that such abuse of the college visits will occur.

“It’s a given that with such privileges, a few will abuse [them],” Banks said. “We cannot be the ones who decide whether or not the student’s profile matches the visiting college.”

That does not mean students can get away with it, Banks added.

“If a pattern of abuse is noted, it will be addressed,” he said.

It’s not uncommon to see groups of juniors visiting the college center to grab excused-absence forms and sign up or all of the college visits taking place that day.

What makes the situation difficult to address is that the visits provide a benefit to students.

“Colleges and universities are stressing the fact that they want applicants to show ‘interest,’” Banks said.

And this benefit is not limited to seniors, alone.

“Juniors can certainly benefit from [the meetings,]” Banks said. “The summer before their senior year is a good time to visit, so getting contact information and what to expect from the visit is smart planning.”

Jenq said he has heard of freshmen in college meetings.

“Does that really provide them any benefit?” he said. “I didn’t attend [the visits] when I was a freshman.”

According to Banks, the visitations are primarily oriented towards upperclassmen.

“[There is] not so much of a benefit for freshmen and sophomores,” he said.

Although visitations can provide much for a potential applicant, it remains to be seen if school administrators will change any policy to stop students from abusing the privilege of college visitations without limiting the chance of students to show their interest in a college or university. •