One of the most important things you can do in deciding which college or university to attend is to visit the school. Looking through brochures and exploring an institution’s website can give you an idea of what campus life is like. However, visiting a school in person gives you a firsthand view of the environment and allows you to experience the campus for yourself.
Visiting nearby college campuses may be feasible for most students, but traveling to those far away from home may be out of the question—or is it? Not necessarily. Having inadequate finances or other resources doesn’t have to prevent you from visiting these schools.
Several institutions realize that not every student can afford to visit numerous college campuses. Hence, they offer what are known as fly-in programs, including those for underrepresented, first generation, and diverse prospective and accepted students at minimal to no cost to the student. From transportation to food and housing expenses, the student’s visit may be completely free.
Fly-in programs help you assess if the institution is a good “fit” for you. Attending a class, meeting admissions counselors, talking with students and professors, eating in the dining hall, sleeping in a dorm room, or walking around campus will help you decide if you want to spend the next four years of your academic life there.
Finding Information On Fly-Ins
Not all colleges offer fly-in programs. To find those that do, look into organizations that publish lists of such schools.
For instance, College Greenlight lists the name of the program, the application deadline, and the program dates of institutions that offer fly-in and similar programs. Get Me to College provides similar information, but also provides details on requirements like estimated GPA and test scores. Just be sure to verify the information you find with the school.
Applying to a Fly-In Program
Fly-in programs are competitive. Some require students to submit an essay, a transcript with test scores, and a letter of recommendation as part of the application process.
Because it’s competitive, you need to take care when completing your application. Follow directions carefully and submit your application before the posted deadline. If you have any questions, be sure to contact the school’s admissions department.
A number of fly-in programs occur in the fall, but some are held in early spring. Application deadlines vary but could be as early as June for the upcoming fall programs.
Although acceptance to a fly-in program does not guarantee admission to the school, it certainly does not hurt your chances. Being chosen to attend could signal the college’s interest in you.
Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T., is founder and CEO of GamePhox Unlimited L.L.C. A motivational speaker who has lectured at various high schools, colleges, professional youth sport foundations, and youth groups, Dixon is the author of Bridging the Gap: A Simple Guide to College. She earned a B.A. in sociology from Boston College, an M.A.T. in secondary education from Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) and an M.S. in sport management from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. The proud New Jersey native is a member of the Ewing High School Athletic Hall of Fame and The Trenton Softball Hall of Fame. You can learn more about her at www.gamephox.com or www.bridgingthecollegegap.com.