College Fly-In


Sydney Young and Christine Joo

As juniors and seniors approach college application season, many colleges offer special fly-in programs that give prospective freshmen the opportunity to visit their campuses and experience the life of a college student, with all expenses paid. If admitted, students are given the opportunity to stay overnight in a dorm, tour the campus, eat at the dining hall and really immerse themselves in each campus’ unique environment. The popular deadlines for fly-in programs start in early summer and end around late October. Although application requirements differ between schools, students are required to fill out an online form with general personal information, financial status and a short essay for most schools. Most schools also offer transportation scholarships to cover the cost for a round trip flight or bus ride to and from the campus.

There are many different schools that offer these programs from Rice to Babson to John Hopkins to UPenn. Many times, these programs are catered to low-income, first-generation college students or traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups. However, just because a student may not fit into one of these categories does not rule them out from admission. Depending on the strength of an application, students may still have a strong chance of admittance. Though applications vary from school to school, students should expect admission teams to be mainly judging the individual qualities and GPA, test scores and extra curricular activities, in addition to an essay that may pertain more specifically to the focus of the particular program. Even if there is not an essay requirement (like at Babson, for example) colleges still usually request a submission of a list of extracurriculars or a resume detailing the projects, volunteer work, or other clubs of involvement.

To every fly-in experience, there are different perspectives for those who are interested in the school’s specialty and for those who are there for the college experience.


Recently, Christine and I got the chance to attend a fly-in at Babson College in Massachusetts for two days. From experience, college fly-ins are definitely something everyone should at the very least apply for. It is a truly intimate experience to travel across the country and be given a personal tour, attend classes with a host and eat at a college dining hall. As Babson is a business-focused school, we were able to have our own entrepreneurial-style think tank where we formulated products as solutions to everyday problems that we faced, then pitched them to the group to decide whose was the best. We also were able to learn a lot about how Babson particularly reviews their applications, as well as information about financial aid. For schools that may be farther away from where I live, fly-ins provided the experience to visit them as it is hard for me to regularly take the trip out there for an information session and college tour.

For me, I learned from the experience what I want in a college campus, and what I don’t want. Decent food, for one, is something that is very important in a college when dining at the same hall day after day.


As a student who isn’t a prospective business major, it was interesting to experience such a creative space of entrepreneurs and future business leaders. From the start of the fly-in experience, I got to bond with a diverse group of people that become more close over just a few couple of days. One regret that I have is not knowing about fly-in programs earlier during my application process as they are fun and intriguing experiences that helped me consider the location, food, weather and social environment of a campus. I would want to start the fly-in applications earlier to be able to take advantage of every opportunity.

It was so interesting to communicate with people age from all over the U.S. One girl told me that she expected all the guys from Los Angeles to be surfer dudes with long hair and tan skin. Not only do students get to bond over fun conversations, but I got to understand my stance in the application process as we talked about what schools we are applying to or at what step we are at in the admissions process.

And during the experience, I made some really amazing friends as I explored the college campus and got a preview of the independent college life.