One of the most exciting things about senior year of high school is the college application process. It also happens to be a daunting one. This is where fly-in programs come in. Increasingly, more and more colleges are initiating diversity programs to fund students from disadvantaged backgrounds to stay on campuses overnight. Most students have never heard of them or assume they are a waste of time. Here's why you should give it a go.
1. Everything's free.
The whole point is to lift the financial burden off of you. Food, accommodation and travel will all be covered by the program. So think of it as a small getaway from your senior year and you don’t even have to spend a penny. I know I definitely needed the break.
Quick note: Travel assistance policies will vary from school to school. Some buy your plane or train tickets for you and others pay for gas mileage. Be sure to clarify with the admissions office.
2. Attending actual college classes.
Contrary to common belief, students go to college to study. Shocking, I know. It goes without saying that sitting in a class can tell you a lot about the college's academics. What are teacher-student interactions like? Do you feel comfortable in this setting (big or small)? Is the pacing too fast to follow or too slow to stay awake?
3. An application "dress rehearsal."
For the fly-in, not only do you have to fill out an application and send in your transcripts, but you also have to get a recommendation, and you have the option to take an admissions interview once on campus. When you are familiar with the process, getting ahead in the game is easy. On top of that, fly-ins offer invaluable insight into the application process and financial aid from the admissions counselors themselves. To say the least, you'll definitely have a huge advantage.
4. Staying overnight.
Have you ever wondered what dorms are like? Well, here’s your chance. Diversity programs give students the opportunity to really experience college life. How spacious are dorms? What is it like to have a roommate? Are showers really clean? Can you survive on the food dining halls provide? Basically, you should be able to picture yourself living here for the next four years.
5. Everyone is watching out for you.
Everyone from the admissions counselors to the current students are there to help you better understand where you fit in and to make sure you feel comfortable. This is the only time you will get your burning questions answered face-to-face. Meeting current and prospective students will help you figure out the type of people the college attracts. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and strike up a conversation with anyone.
6. Waived application fees.
Yes, you heard me right! More free stuff. Nowadays, a single college application can cost you up to $85 and this adds up for each college you apply to. As a result, it creates a barrier for many low-income students. But with no application fees to pay, you've got one less thing to worry about.
7. It is made for under-represented students.
Low-income, first-generation, minority and immigrant students may feel lost through the college process. Thankfully, these diversity programs have workshops and panels intended to exhibit resources on campus for underrepresented students. Flying-in is a great way to figure whether the school can facilitate your specific needs.
For me, flying-in was both a fun experience and a reality check. Besides, there’s only so much that postcards, brochures and websites can convey about campus life. I can honestly say that it has forever changed my life because I am attending a college that I fell in love with since its fly-in program. I would definitely recommend that you look over the list of fly-ins available. Good luck!
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