College Visiting: Give Seniors a Chance

If Phillips Academy prides itself on readying students for college, then why have rules about college visiting and overnights become so unaccommodating? How can the administration boast about Andover’s supportive college counseling system while preventing students from even visiting campuses before early application deadlines? Throughout Fall Term, many Seniors, both athletes and non-athletes, would like to visit colleges before early applications are due on either November 1 or November 15. Instead, many students feel that, in addition to the hassle of missing classes, getting permission in the first place has been more difficult than expected, and the only free college visiting day is this Monday, which is also one of the major early application deadlines. Cluster deans only grant off-campus permission to students who can use personal time in all of the classes they miss, making more than one visit day next to impossible. The situation is much different for recruited athletes. For them, the school is much more lenient. According to Flagstaff Cluster Dean Paul Murphy, the school does this on purpose because it recognizes the importance of official visits to an athlete’s application. Coaches could have an impact on final admissions decisions, making it extra important for athletes to take extra days to meet coaches. But college visiting is important for non-athletes too. Some Seniors were forced to apply to schools with binding admissions policies before they were able to visit enough schools to accurately choose a first choice college. Dean Murphy also said that the school’s strict college visiting policies are a disciplinary precaution. He cited the possibility of Seniors breaking school rules during the college overnight process, pointing out that disciplinary action can only hinder students’ chances of college acceptance. Dean Murphy said that if a student is attending a college overnight to meet a coach, the probability of breaking Blue Book regulations in the process decreases significantly. But if Seniors can’t even be trusted to visit colleges, then clearly the school fails as a college preparatory experience. And if the school thinks official visits lend themselves to rule-breaking less then unofficial ones, they are living a convenient fantasy. Strict visiting regulations don’t protect students from themselves; they only increase the stress level of the already treacherous college process. All Seniors deserve the chance to fully research a decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Andover, while you are busy preparing us for college, please give us the tools and the freedom to choose the right schools.