Special Studies: Independent College Tour

As upper schoolers, our days in the hallways of Presnell are numbered. One day, we will (hopefully) wear our caps and gowns and receive our high school diploma, after many years of hard work. The benefits of this hard work are maximized with planning, and the Independent College Search Special Studies greatly helps juniors and seniors with planning for life after graduation.

College plays a major role in almost every high-schooler’s life well before they get to college; it seems that at every waking minute, upperclassmen are being asked where they are going to college. Though these questions may be frustrating to some, they are important ones. Fortunately, SDS students are given the opportunity to better understand colleges by visiting them during Special Studies week. This year, eleven students took advantage of this opportunity and traveled to universities, with most traveling up and down the east coast, but some also visiting colleges in the midwest. Each student met individually with college counselors to make an agenda that suited their needs and desires, for as we all know, with the great number of colleges out there, it can be difficult to find the correct fit.

The students who spent their week college-hunting
The students who spent their week college-hunting

One student, Tommy Leonardi, visited Carnegie-Mellon, Ohio State, Case Western, Cornell, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His ideal university is one that is geared towards the maths and sciences. He focused his college search on these types of universities, and overall, he felt that this Special Studies week has opened his eyes to the possibilities and will help him as he applies to universities in the fall. He reflected on his experience:

“I know the college search helped me truly get a sense of what I wanted. It was a truly fascinating experience to visit so many interesting places.”

On the other hand, my agenda was different from the typical college tours as I am working on a research project with a mentor who works at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. My project will take me into the summer, so this visit was an orientation to the college campus and research facility. Johns Hopkins is perhaps not as well known for its undergraduate campus, the Homewood campus. Hopkins is more famous for its world class medical and research facilities; this opened my eyes as I previously was not aware that institutions vary in their emphasis on undergraduate versus graduate programs. Additionally, Hopkins is in an urban setting and perhaps not as traditional of a campus as we typically imagine from a rural southern college.

In summary, this Special Studies week was informative for all Independent College Searchers, whether it was touring Washington and Lee or the cancer labs at Johns Hopkins. Overall, while it may be stressful to consider the vast options of colleges, it is reassuring to know that everyone’s needs can be met; it just requires some effort to find your niche!


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