(Photo illustration by Reyna Yang)
Oak Park High School

Apply and fly — My experience with fly-in programs for college visits

Fly-in programs are opportunities for high school students to visit colleges over the course of a few days and meet students from all around the world with various interests. The visit is at no cost to the student.

While the general public has a solid idea of certain schools’ GPA and testing averages, these programs are relatively new, and kept hushed. While some programs have students apply in the spring (for summer fly-ins), the majority are for high school seniors during the fall of their senior year of high school.

For my anxious readers, before you Google every single school that offers this (SHOCKER: no Ivy Leagues), here are some reasons you should apply, if at all.

You should apply if you really want to go to that college or if you are applying for college, but not quite sure what living there would be like. Keep in mind that applying for these programs also takes a lot of time, so do not apply to these programs if you are not considering the school — that time could be better spent on your college applications, internships, summer program applications, and preparing for your future career.

Timeline and Tips:

  1. Do your research early. What does that mean? Compiling that list of colleges with the programs you want in a college, location, tuition, etc. in a spreadsheet may help! Do they have a fly-in program? When is the application due?
  2. Write those essays and keep an eye on the deadlines. This is pretty self-explanatory. Talk to a trusted adult and ask if they would be willing to look at your essays! Remember to answer the prompt!
  3. Listen to feedback. Think of these essays as practice for your college applications. Trust me, they are not that far away.
  4. Edit. It’s painful, but the practice is worth it. By applying, you’re taking baby steps toward the process of submitting the formidable college essays.
  5. Submit! (Preferably a couple days before the deadline, just in case.)
  6. Wait. Generally, students will receive their responses at least two weeks before the event. Attending the program shows the college that you are genuinely interested in attending the school, and they may waive your application fee if you get into the fly-in program.

Results Day:

Read the email carefully. Remember, if you are not chosen to participate in the program or are waitlisted, it does not, by any means, mean that you do not have a chance at getting into the undergraduate program.

Waitlisted? If you wish to remain on the list, you may have to email back within a certain time frame (it’ll say in the email) to keep your spot.

ACCEPTED! Congratulations! Make sure you do the following:

  1. Submit permission forms on timeDo not forfeit your spot by forgetting to do so on time.
  2. Print the itinerary. Printing it ensures that you know where you’re going in case something happens to your phone. It also serves is a physical reminder to pack for the trip of a lifetime.
  3. Pack interview clothes. Dressing professionally will set you apart from your peers — especially the ones who didn’t look at their itinerary carefully!
  4. Pack at least two days before! Do not procrastinate, because you’ll most definitely forget something if you wait until the day of. If the school recommends packing anything (i.e. sleeping bag), pack it! An umbrella in the middle of summer? Uh huh, right. Turns out I needed it. It rained while I was running to my next flight during summer, much to my chagrin. On top of that, I was wearing shorts. Everyone was definitely thinking “California kid,” but it turned out to be helpful in making conversation.
  5. Make a Snapchat. Tapping “add” on Snapchat group chats is easier and faster than swapping numbers. Plus, you will probably only get the numbers of the handful of students you actually will keep in touch with. Who knows, you might end up at the same college!

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