Unsure how to narrow down your college search? Consider these fly-in programs!

Authored By: Emma Calkins

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of choosing which colleges to apply to? You’re not alone!


It’s easy to feel swamped with information as college application deadlines approach. Maybe your email inbox and your home’s mailbox have been filling up with all kinds of enticing offers from admissions counselors, trying to convince you to apply to their schools. Maybe you’ve attended a college fair at your high school, or simply tried googling college options, only to feel overloaded by the sheer amount of choices. How can you possibly narrow down your college options? How can you decide which schools to apply to?


One answer is: visit a school or two (or more!). You’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to know whether a school is the right fit for you is to visit and get a sense of the campus. You’ll learn about the surrounding location, the dorms, and the classrooms. You’ll get to talk to students, counselors, and professors and ask a lot of questions. You’ll get to read the vibe of the student body and reflect on whether you can envision yourself there.


But the cost of visiting a university can be steep, and it’s understandable that many students feel deterred by this reality. This is where fly-in programs come in.


Fly-in programs are an amazing way to visit schools as a prospective student - for free or little cost! If accepted to a school’s fly-in program, the school will cover the cost of your airfare and lodging. These programs are typically 2-3 days long, giving you plenty of time to explore the college you’re visiting.


In COVID times, many of these programs are virtual, but even so, they provide a much more immersive experience than you’d get by simply scouring the school’s website. Just like in-person fly-in programs, virtual fly-in programs allow you to make connections with members of the university in real-time, ask questions, and feel out the vibe of the school.


Whether in-person or virtual, fly-in programs are a worthwhile way to narrow down your college options and show colleges how interested you are in attending. Consider applying to these fly-in programs being offered this fall! (They are listed alphabetically).


Amherst College, Amherst, MA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 1

  • Program dates: October 3-7, 2021

  • Virtual (& recordings will be available)

  • Program selection considerations: Gen1 and Low-Income students

  • College application requirements: SAT/ACT test optional 3-year pilot program (2020-2023)


Bates College, Lewiston, ME: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 15

  • Program dates: September 22-23 and October 20-21

  • Virtual (& recordings will be available)

  • Program selection considerations:

  • Gen1 and Low-Income students

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is unofficial and optional

  • College application requirements: test-optional since 1984


Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Nov 30

  • Program dates: TBD

  • Virtual

  • Program test requirements: Test optional, but students submitting scores are considered with preference


Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 3, rolling

  • Program dates: Sept 11-13, Oct 9-11

  • In-person and/or virtual, in-person requires full vaccination from all participants

  • Program selection considerations: Gen1 and Low-Income students

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is unofficial and optional

  • College application requirements: test optional this year, and will remain test optional after the pandemic



Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Oct 6

  • Program dates: Oct 3 and 6

  • Virtual (& recordings available by request only)

  • Program selection considerations: open to all students

  • Program test requirements: N/A


Hamilton College, Clinton, NY: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 18

  • Program dates: Sept 18 and Oct 23

  • Virtual (& recordings will be available)

  • Program test requirements: not considered


Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 15

  • Program dates: Oct 16 and 23

  • Virtual

  • Program selection considerations: Gen1 and Low-Income students

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is unofficial and optional

  • College application requirements: test optional this year


Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 10

  • Program dates: Sept 26, Oct 17

  • Virtual

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is unofficial and optional

  • College application requirements: test optional this year, and will remain test optional after the pandemic


Scripps College, Claremont, CA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 17

  • Program dates: Oct 9 and Oct 23, & semester-long mentorship

  • Virtual

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is not considered

  • College application requirements: test optional this year, and will remain test optional after the pandemic


Smith College, Northampton, MA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 3

  • Program dates: Oct 16-17

  • Virtual

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is not considered

  • College application requirements: test optional since 2006


The College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho: Travel Grant Program Link

  • Visit before Aug 1, 2022

  • In-person

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is not considered

  • College application requirements: test optional this year


University of Vermont, Burlington, VT: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 20

  • Program dates: Oct 24-26, Nov 7-9

  • In person: requires full vaccination from all participants

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is not considered

  • College application requirements: test optional this year


Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Oct 1

  • Program dates: Oct 30

  • Virtual (& recordings will be available for selected students)

  • Program test requirements: test score reporting is unofficial and optional

  • College application requirements: test optional pilot through 2023


Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA: Fly In Program Link

  • Program application deadline: Sept 12

  • Program dates: Sept 18-19

  • Virtual (& recordings will be available)

  • Program selection considerations: Gen1 and Low-Income students

  • Program test requirements: test reporting is not considered

  • College application requirements: test optional this year



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