College fly-in and diversity programs are amazing opportunities for first-gen, low-income and underrepresented students to make important campus visits funded by a scholarship or all expenses paid by the school. Held at institutions around the country, fly-in and diversity programs give students the chance to sit in on a class, stay overnight in a dorm, meet faculty and current students, and get a real feel for a college’s culture.
Thinking about participating in one of these great programs? Here are some tips for students on how to find, apply, and prepare for a fly-in or diversity program.
Decide What Programs You’re Interested In
Take a look at College Greenlight’s blog post to see a comprehensive list of colleges that offer these sorts of programs. Consider which colleges are ones you are interested in attending—you don’t want to waste both your and a college’s time by attending a program at a college you wouldn’t consider, and taking a spot for someone who wants to be there.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of colleges check into the details of each program and decide if you’re eligible or if it will work with your needs and schedule. Some programs are only for certain students, like those who are first-gen or come from underrepresented backgrounds or are for students interested in specific fields such as STEM. You’ll also want to take a look at program dates and deadlines, and see if these particular programs have open applications and that their program dates will work with your schedule. Junior and senior year can be a very busy time, but taking time to visit a college campus, especially for a fly-in or diversity program, can be worth it come college application time.
Collect Your Materials & Submit Applications
Once you’ve decided on what programs you’ll apply to, you’ll have to collect the necessary materials and fill out an application. Do your research—each program may have very different requirements, from essays to transcripts to letters of recommendation, and some of these you’ll have to plan ahead to get in time.
It’s important to note that many of these programs are selective and have very limited seats available. Some are on a first-come, first-serve basis; others are based on merit or a student’s demonstrated interest in the institution. To have the best chance of getting accepted, apply early and, if possible, use your application materials (like essays) to explain why you are interested in that particular college.
Prepare for Your Visit
Once you’ve been accepted to a program, it’s time to get excited for your visit! It’s also time to prepare for taking advantage of your time on campus. Make a list of questions you’d like to ask admissions staff, faculty and current students. Depending on your interests, these questions can include information about financial aid, academics or the college’s culture. Ask fellow students how they like the college and any other questions that might help give you an idea of how you’d fit in on campus. Do you participate in sports or clubs or activities you plan to pursue after high school? Do you want to know what there is to do in the surrounding community? These are just a few examples of potential questions, and don’t be shy—ask away!
Interested in a specific field of study? It can also be helpful to find out before where the faculty offices and classroom buildings are located and see if you can find some time to visit them. Each fly-in and diversity program is different, and you may only see different parts of campus or you may get a tour of all the buildings.
Follow Up & Apply
Many college admissions professionals agree that the campus visit can be the most crucial part of deciding if a college is the right match or fit for a student. If after you after attending a fly-in or diversity program you are still interested in the college, the real work starts!
If you met with admissions officers or faculty, you can demonstrate your interest by following up and thanking them for your time. This not only is polite, but also helps them remember you when you send in your application later.
Don’t forget the most important part: applying! Take note of deadlines and fill out your application to the school when it opens. By participating in the diversity or fly-in program you already have an advantage, but there is still the last step: work hard and get accepted!