The best time to visit colleges is when they are bursting with excitement during the academic year. Visiting during the school year will allow students the opportunity to live the life of a college student at the school and see if it feels right for them. But, visiting during the academic year is not always an option. Summer is the perfect time for family vacations. Students won’t have to miss school and the weather will be nice. There are advantages and disadvantages of visiting during the summer. In spite of the disadvantages, my tips will help make summer college visits a success.
The Bright Side of Summer College Visits
- Prospective students won’t miss school. Doing well in high school is very important to getting into college. So, students won’t have to jeopardize their grades by missing school.
- Visits can coincide with family vacation. Families will already be in the area, so why not visit some college campuses too?
- The whole family can visit. Sometimes one or both parents cannot visit when students visit during the academic year. Summer visits, if coinciding with family vacations, will allow parents to visit. Plus, siblings can visit too, giving them an opportunity to start thinking about college.
- The weather will be great. For most parts of the country, the weather will be nice. Visitors probably won’t have to deal with a lot of rain or snow like you might experience during the academic year.
- There will be plenty of parking. College campuses are notorious for not having enough parking. With students gone for the summer, there won’t have a problem finding a place for your car.
- Smaller campus tour groups. Campus tours during the academic year can be quite big and impersonal, especially at more popular colleges. Summer campus tours are usually smaller, allowing you the opportunity to connect with admissions representatives and campus tour guides.
Disadvantages of Summer College Visits
- Not many students on campus. Colleges will feel very different with and without students. There will be fewer opportunities to talk to current students during the summer.
- No campus activities. If specific extracurricular activities are important, you probably won’t be able to experience them during the summer. There won’t be any sporting events, theatrical productions or club meetings to attend.
- Can’t sit in on classes. Academics are the most important thing about attending college. During the summer, you probably won’t be able to experience a real class at the college.
- The weather will be great. The reason this can be a disadvantage is because you won’t be able to see what the weather is really like during the year.
- You cannot spend the night. One of the ways to truly experience life as a student is to spend the night in the residence halls. However, during the summer, residence halls are usually closed to visitors.
Summer Visits Can Be Successful
- High schools and colleges are usually on different schedules. While many high schools start in September, some colleges start in August. So, while you have a few more weeks of summer, colleges might already be in session. This could be the perfect time to visit.
- Schedule college visits well in advance and be flexible with dates. Summer is the time for staff vacations at college. Check in with the offices to make sure they will be open when you want to visit.
- Attend summer visit events. These events will try to bring together a lot of the things that prospective students want to see or do when they are on campus, including talking to faculty members, sitting in on classes, campus tours, and talking to current students. These events can fill up quickly, so it is best to sign up early.
- Contact the Admissions Office and let them know want you want in your visit. If you, for example, want to sit in on a History class, talk to a professor, meet a current student and talk the baseball coach, let them know. You may have to be flexible with your dates, but if you give them notice, they might be able to give you everything you want.
- Get discounts! Yes, continue talking to the Admissions Office and see if they have discounts for things such as hotels, restaurants in the area, etc. A lot of time, they will have these discounts, but they are not publicized on their websites.
- Talk to the students you do see. There won’t be many students on campus, but there will be some. Talk to them and ask your questions. The person giving you the campus tour will probably be a current student. But, you’ll probably find more in the library, in other offices, or walking around campus.
- Visit the surrounding community. No matter what, you won’t be spending all of your time on campus. You’ll eventually need to get off campus to shop or have some fun. Find out about the local eateries and hangouts and check them out.
- Visit only a few college campuses per day. If you try to jam a lot of college visits into one day, it will be hard to really experience them. Plus, after a few visits, things will start blending together.
Lastly, I want to emphasis that it is important to work with the Admissions Office when visiting college campuses. Let them know what is important to you and they will do their best to meet all your needs.