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When it’s time to research potential schools, campus visits are a wonderful way to figure out if a school is the right fit for you. Unfortunately, visiting multiple schools that are located in various parts of the country can be a costly venture. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to visit colleges for free? The answer is yes, right? Lucky for you, many schools throughout the country offer fly-in programs, for which they invite you to campus for an exclusive experience. Not only do they pay for airfare/transportation costs, you’ll get the chance to participate in a unique event catered towards fully immersing you in the college experience. You’ll stay with a student, get to visit classes, try a couple meals in the dining hall, and will probably have a chance to visit the surrounding area.

These programs are targeted towards seniors, and some of them are specifically for minority groups or those who need financial help. If you don’t fall under either category, don’t worry! Every program is different and chances are, you’ll be able to find one that fits for you. For a list of schools that offer fly-ins, check this out or simply Google “2015 fly-in programs”. But in order to participate in these programs, you have to apply! Even if you aren’t accepted into the program, you’ll still get a couple perks from merely applying.

Broadening your college research

By looking into schools that offer fly-ins, you’ll be exposed to schools that are all over the country and might not have heard of otherwise.  The majority of schools that offer fly-ins are liberal arts colleges, which might not be something that you’ve even considered. This is your chance to check out all the cool features a liberal arts education offers. I personally love liberal arts colleges because they provide a small community with an emphasis placed on undergraduate students. But liberal arts colleges aren’t the only ones to offer fly-ins; a couple research universities offer them as well. Either way, this is your chance to look into some really amazing schools that you’ve never heard of before.

Potential freebies

In every fly-in program, you are guaranteed to at least get free transportation to the school. But that’s not all. They’ll feed you, chauffeur you to and from the airport, and some schools will even give you college swag! Even if you aren’t accepted into the program, you might end up saving money. One of the fly-in programs that I applied to but was not accepted into waived my college application fee! I saved $65 by applying to the school’s fly-in. That’s a pretty sweet deal!

Demonstrate interest

It always helps to show a school that you are interested in them. Whether you do this by signing up for their brochure, visiting the school, or speaking with someone form the admissions office, it doesn’t hurt to tell them that you’re serious about them. Applying to their fly-in program is a pretty strong method of telling the school that you want to go there.

Practice applying to colleges

College applications can be very time consuming and it’s important to get started on them as soon as you can. You do need to apply to fly-in programs, and each school has different requirements (just like with actual college applications). Some of them will want your transcript, a teacher recommendation, test scores, etc. Most of them will want you to write an essay in response to a prompt. This exposes you to essay prompts that different schools have and is your chance to practice writing a college essay. Senior year is fast approaching and having a bit of practice with application essays will come in handy this fall.

I participated in a fly-in the fall of my senior year and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I made a lot of connections on my trip with students, staff, as well as with other prospies who were interested in similar schools as I. It doesn’t hurt to apply, but deadlines are fast approaching so get on it ASAP prospies! Best of luck to you!

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