College Hunting? Campus Visits Help You 'Demonstrate Interest'


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College Transitions

Hardly a day goes by when something in the news is not described as “Orwellian.” Whether in reference to the government’s latest surveillance efforts or the latest app for your smart phone that is secretly mining your personal information and selling it to advertisers, the term has become nearly inescapable. Its proliferation is a sign of the computerized, information-saturated times in which we live, and that surveillance is visible in our everyday lives. Amazon.com seems to know magicallwhen we need to order more toothpaste. The UPS driver delivering your resupply of Colgate is being monitored by his employers every time he puts his seatbelt on, backs up the truck, or gets an electronic signature. Of course, it is only a matter of time before drones completely take over package delivery, a change that may be more Asimovian than Orwellian.

In this climate, it should be of little surprise that a flavor of 1984 has entered the college admissions game. So, you ask, what exactly is Dean Big Brother watching? In this case, it’s the level of “demonstrated interest” you show toward a college. Are you their pal on social media sites? Did you visit the campus in person? Have you emailed an admissions rep to ask questions or introduce yourself? At the majority of colleges and universities today, this information is being tracked, recorded, and can actually factor into a school’s decision about whether to admit or deny an applicant.

The importance of “demonstrated interest” by the numbers

According to a recent NACAC (National Association of College Admission Counseling) survey, 20 percent of colleges and universities consider demonstrated interest as “very important” to a student’s application, the highest such distinction on the survey’s scale. More ballyhooed application components such as essays and counselor/teacher recommendations actually rated at the same level or lower in terms of importance. With another 34 percent of institutions assigning “considerable importance” to demonstrated interest, the percentage of schools who strongly value a little attention from applicants is 54 percent, a higher total than that of class rank, the interview, or extracurricular activities. 

This emphasis on demonstrated interest is a relatively new phenomenon.  Back in 2003, just 7 percent of schools identified interest as being a highly important factor and a decade earlier in 1993, the category did not even exist.

What type of colleges are in the 54 Percent?

Less than elite private colleges and universities comprise the majority of schools in this group. Most public institutions employ a largely formula-driven admissions process that accounts for little more than grades, test scores, and on occasion, extracurricular activities. In addition, public colleges can often rely on many in-state residents (who seek affordable education) to meet enrollment targets. Similarly, elite private universities always attract more highly qualified applicants than they are able to accommodate, so they rarely have to worry about filling their classrooms or coffers. Less selective and moderately selective privates, on the other hand, have to worry about their yield rate (the percentage of admitted students who enroll) and the impact a low yield rate can have on their revenue and rankings. Institutions with a low yield rate typically have to inflate their acceptance rates and admit students with less than desirable credentials — both have negative influence on a college’s standing in U.S. News and other publications. To make matters worse, the growing popularity of the Common Application and other streamlined tools have enabled students to apply to more colleges. As a result, colleges are finding it increasingly difficult to determine which applicants are actually serious about enrolling. For this reason, many institutions are now looking to signs of demonstrated interest to determine which students are likely to attend and, ultimately, which students they should admit. Just as your fifth-choice prom date doesn’t want to know that he/she was a distant back-up, schools don’t appreciate this feeling either. They want to feel wanted. Below are five tips on how to make every school on your list feel like the belle of the ball.

1. Email your admissions counselor: At most colleges, there will be one counselor responsible for reviewing applications from students in your region of the country. It’s typically, with some clever Googling, pretty easy to find your assigned counselor on any institution’s admission website.  Once you find your counselor, send a brief email introducing yourself and describing your interests in the institution. An introductory email also presents a great opportunity to ask questions related to the admissions process or a particular academic program. It is also an ideal time to show that you’ve done your research on their school by asking targeted questions about unique aspects of their campus or academic program. Remember, keep it brief. They don’t need to know your life story or your thoughts on Cartesian dualism—just the fact that you are a high school student who is interested in their school.

2. Complete an online information request form: Just about every college in the world features a page on its admission website where prospective students can request general information, subscribe to the college’s blog or admission newsletter, and/or indicate academic programs/activities that are especially appealing. They’ll likely send you piles of printed materials through snail mail which, whether you carefully peruse or toss directly into the recycle bin, will serve the purpose of communicating interest.

3. Visit campus:  Campus visits may be the strongest indicator of interest, and allows you to become intimately acquainted with a particular college. Anyone can click on a website but only the truly interested will make the effort to travel. While there, make every effort to schedule an interview or informal meeting with your admissions counselor. Connecting in-person with an admissions officer provides you the opportunity to show your counselor that you are more than just your grades and test scores and, of course, gets you brownie points when they calculate your so-called interest quotient.

4. Attend admissions events in your area:  If an admissions representative from a prospective college visits your high school for an information session or college fair, make it a point to be there, and be sure to introduce yourself. If you are interested enough in a school to apply, you should definitely be interested enough to meet a rep who has traveled (sometimes across the country) right to your backyard. Afterward, send a brief thank-you email. Yes, their mailboxes are likely full of perfunctory thank-you emails — yours may even be funneled to a special folder in their email exclusively for perfunctory thank-yous. The important thing is that …you guessed it, it shows that you are genuinely interested.

5. Connect on Social Media: More schools are offering applicants the chance to create an online admissions profile where they can submit and track their online application, schedule a campus tour, and interact with college staff via Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  Take a minute to create an admissions profile at each of your target colleges, and if possible, provide detailed information about your academic and extracurricular interests. It won’t take any more time to connect with a college on social media than it did to retweet Katy Perry’s latest deep thoughts about eating tacos on the beach (believe it or not, this is an actual message which was retweeted by over 13,000 people).

Don’t go overboard

It’s nice to “like” someone’s Facebook post when it resonates with you. It’s weird to “like” every single post and picture on their entire account. The line between showing interest and stalking to the point of a full on creep-out is a fine one, but there are clear divisions. To put it in movie terms, you want to be more like Hugh Grant buying someone flowers and chocolate in a romantic comedy and less like Robert Deniro in Taxi Driver — shirtless, sporting a serial-killer mohawk, and repeatedly screaming “You lookin’ at me?” into the mirror.

Many guidance counselors and students resent the entire concept of “demonstrated interest” and see it as further evidence of the corporatization of college admissions. While they’re correct, our recommendation is to just give in and play the game — it’s simple enough and won’t take too much of your time. Plus, there’s a darn good chance you’ll learn more about your prospective institutions through this process, an outcome that will benefit both you and Big Brother.

College Transitions is a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. As counselors and published higher education researchers, we aim to bring perspective (and some sanity) to college planning, and we strive to provide students with the support they need to enroll and succeed at a college that is right for them. Please visit our website—www.collegetransitions.com—to learn more.

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About this Blog

College Transitions

Expert advice for finding the right fit


About This Blog

College Transitions is a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. As counselors and published higher education researchers, we aim to bring perspective (and some sanity) to college planning, and we strive to provide students with the support they need to enroll and succeed at a college that is right for them. Learn more at collegetransitions.com

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June 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Dads play free mini golf with each paying player at regular price.

Cost: $7.99/person

Where:
Adventure Landing
3311 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Adventure Landing
Telephone: 191-987-21688
Contact Name: Mike Collins
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Take Dad to enjoy food trucks, live music and more at Durham Central Park's food truck rodeo. All ages.

Cost: Free. Food available for purchase.

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Come out to the millpond and fish the old fashioned way - we'll provide you with a cane pole, tackle, and bait, along with basic instructions and assistance with identifying fish species. You'll...

Cost: $1.00 per person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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The Art Therapy Institute has been working in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools with the Exceptional Children's Program for the past ten years. Enjoy a summer art therapy groups in June and...

Cost: $20 per session

Where:
Art Therapy Institute of NC
200 N Greensboro St. Suite D-6 (2nd Floor Carr Mill Mall)
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Telephone: 919-381-6068
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Weekly basic skills cooking class offered for children ages 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets at the cafe each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Learn about law issues including divorce, separation, child custody, child support, landlord-tenant issues, and more. A local attorney will lead the discussion. This event is free and free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Compass Center for Women and Families
210 Henderson Street
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Compass Center for Women and Families
Telephone: 919-968-4610
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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty suncatcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy "Kate Writes a Song."

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Budding naturalists ages 2-6 enjoy a craft, engaging activity, and guided walk along the greenway. Register online. Choose course #219939.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

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Join Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old who was recently recognized by President Trump at the State of the Union, to honor U.S. veterans by placing flags and flowers on their graves...

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh National Cemetery
501 Rock Quarry Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 1-530-515-3825

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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Little eyes, ears and hearts are always watching and learning how to navigate life through Moms. Explore what it means to manage your mind and how important it is for your family as well as...

Cost: $10

Where:
Center for Excellence
3803B Computer Drive, Suite 106B
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Tracy Nolin Beerman
Telephone: 919-612-4608
Contact Name: Tracy
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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty suncatcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Join us at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro every Thursday at 10 a.m. for a casual storytime on the porch or even out in the yard. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
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Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219870.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Enjoy a free blueberry dessert and purchase fresh blueberries from local growers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

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What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Kindergarten students entering year-round school practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and explore circle time.   

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty suncatcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Join the folks at Open Table UMC in the Mordecai Neighborhood for free music and food trucks.

Cost: Free

Where:
Open Table United Methodist Church
824 N. Bloodworth Street
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Open Table UMC
Telephone: 919-561-2637
Contact Name: Andrea Chapman
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See the remake of Jeghetto’s hit puppet show co-written by Pierce Freelon of The Beast. This show was awarded two grants from the Henson Foundation. This Afrofuturistic puppet show,...

Cost: $15/person

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main Street
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 191-992-92787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
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See the critically acclaimed documentary p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} from Academy Award-winning...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
2116-D New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Website »

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The summer heat is back, and so are the insects! Join us in the Finley Center exhibit hall to do some fun insect-themed crafts. We will make butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, and other insect...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Get the real scoop on turtles, how they “earn a living," and hear a story. Ages 5 and older. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Transform a plastic storage box into a worm bin suitable for indoor use. Materials provided. Suggested for ages 6 and older. Register online by June 17. Choose course #220017.

Cost: $45/family for City of Raleigh residents; $60 for non-residents

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

After a shaded walk out to the creek entrance, take nets into the water to see some of these creek critters up close. Discuss some of the reasons it’s so important to keep these aquatic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
6001 Turkey Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Land Conservancy
Telephone: 191-990-80054
Contact Name: Molly Richard
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy Little Golden Books' "Jurassic Park." This action-packed and age-appropriate title is great for dinosaur lovers, both new and old. Activities to follow. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Enjoy food trucks, games and dog-related vendors.

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy a one-hour family friendly performance, followed by a party in the lobby featuring live music, face-painting, snacks and additional activities. The 2018 Children’s Matinee...

Cost: $17.25

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian Drive
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: American Dance Festival
Telephone: 919-684-6402
Contact Name: Sarah Tondu
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Pilobolus delivers a one-hour family friendly performance as part of the American Dance Festival. Enjoy an all-ages party in the lobby featuring live music, face-painting,...

Cost: $17.25/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian Dr.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: American Dance Festival
Telephone: 919-684-6402
Contact Name: Sarah Tondu
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Enjoy all-things blueberry, food trucks and more at Vollmer Farms' annual Blueberry Festival. Vollmer Farms' Back-40 Country Playground will be open and features a giant...

Cost: $15/person. Free for ages 12 and younger

Where:
Vollmer Farm
677 NC Hwy 98 East
Bunn, NC  27508
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Sponsor: Vollmer Farm
Telephone: 919-496-3076
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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: $10.00 per boat

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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As the Triangle continues to grow, it is increasingly important to tell the stories of North Carolina so that natives, newcomers and visitors alike feel at home in our great places. Celebrate North...

Cost: $15-$20

Where:
Historic Adams Farm
2601 Broad St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Website »

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See the critically acclaimed documentary p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} from Academy Award-winning...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
2116-D New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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