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College Preparedness

“The College Tour” Host Alex Boylan’s Top Tips for Soon-to-be College Students

student-college-alex boylan-amazing race
student-college-alex boylan-amazing race
Alex Boylan | Photos courtesy of "The College Tour"

The Season 2 winner of CBS’s hit show “The Amazing Race,” Alex Boylan, knows a thing or two about adventure, especially when it comes to one of life’s most pivotal and transformative journeys: college. In recent years, Alex has played co-creator and host of the award-winning Amazon Prime Video streaming series “The College Tour,” a revolutionary series that brings colleges directly to the viewers, saving them both time and money.

Now in its 11th season, what started as a way to bring equity to college readiness has become a lifeline for students, parents, teachers, and counselors all around the world who rely on the show to help them make informed decisions about higher education, thanks to the show’s intimate format that brings to life real students’ stories from each campus.

After showcasing 170 colleges and counting, Boylan shares with us his inspiration for starting the show, what he’s learned from being on campuses, and how aspiring students should best prepare for their college journeys.

Why do you think it’s so important to showcase students from so many schools, and so many students from different groups within each school?

No two students are alike, and no two pathways to success are alike, and it’s important for us to let students know they have options. College isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario, and our job is to show you all your options.

An Ohio University Student

We have filmed at large state schools, small private schools, community colleges, HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and everything in between. By having a diverse group of students from each school, we allow more viewers to visualize what life can be like at that school.

What has been the most rewarding part of doing the show for you?

By far, it’s been seeing how much it’s helped high school students find the right school, and most of the time the students tell us that their choice school wouldn’t have even been on their radar if it wasn’t for “The College Tour.”

The show takes away all financial and time constraints. You can be a high school junior in Florida but be able to “travel” via the show to schools in Alaska, Colorado, New York, etc.

Students’ eyes light up when they watch episodes like the one featuring Semester at Sea. We truly open their world, and it’s such a rewarding thing to do!

Alex Boylan filming “The College Tour” Semester at Sea episode.

As a reality TV veteran, what made you want to bring colleges to the screen?

It really all started when my niece from Wisconsin came to visit me in Los Angeles to check out schools. We spent several days doing regular tours, pretty much only seeing the outside of buildings. Nothing really sparked her interest and she wanted to visit schools in Texas. The only problem was that it was out of the budget.

I saw how disappointed she was and realized there must be millions of teens who were equally frustrated, and that’s when I knew we had to do this show. We needed to help students not just live out their dreams but find them first.

Kennesaw State University students

You have met with thousands of students from all walks of life. What is the greatest college-related lesson you have learned from them?

Getting to know these students has been incredible. The one thing I would say is a common takeaway no matter where I am, is that it’s important to find a school not solely based on academics. You need to factor in your lifestyle, your interests, your hobbies.

There are enough schools out there that you don’t have to go somewhere that doesn’t offer what it is that you are looking for. You can curate the experience you want.

Alex Boylan with the University of Texas mascot, Hook ‘Em

What are the most important factors a student should consider when choosing a school?

The four main factors to consider when starting the college search should definitely be location, campus culture, majors, and type of school. If you can answer those questions you are off to a fantastic start.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle students face when it comes to the college admissions process?

I would say the biggest thing is trying to figure all of this out yourself because really … there is just so much information. The best piece of advice I can give you is this: when you’re interested in a school, reach out and make contact with someone in the admissions department, because there’s going to be someone who’s put onto your case and can start answering your specific questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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