Sometimes summer is the only time students can visit college campuses. However, many experts will advise students against summer college visits because they will not get the full college visit experience. While it is true summer college visits will be different than visits during the bustling academic year, summer college visits can still be beneficial and well worth the trip.
There are some great advantages of summer college visits:
- No missed school. Doing well in high school is very important during the college admissions process. Therefore, students will not have to jeopardize their grades by missing school.
- Coincide with family vacation. If families are already planning a trip to the area, it can be convenient to visit colleges while in the area.
- The whole family can visit. Sometimes one or both parents cannot visit colleges when students visit during the academic year. Summer visits, if coinciding with family vacations, will allow parents to visit. In addition, siblings can visit too, giving them an opportunity to start thinking about college.
- Great weather. In many parts of the country, summer offers beautiful weather. Visitors probably will not have to deal with a lot of rain or snow like they might experience during the academic year.
- Plenty of parking. College campuses are notorious for not having enough parking. With much of the student population gone for the summer, prospective students will not have a problem finding a place for their car while visiting colleges.
- Smaller campus tour groups. Campus tours during the academic year can be quite big and impersonal, especially at more popular colleges. Summer tours are usually smaller, allowing students the opportunity to connect with admissions representatives and campus tour guides.
While there are some great advantages to summer college visits, there are also some disadvantages.
- Less students on campus. Colleges will feel very different with and without students. This means students will not get to feel the real campus atmosphere they would if on campus during the academic year. There will also be fewer opportunities to talk to current students during the summer.
- Less student activities. If specific extracurricular activities are important, students probably will not be able to experience them during the summer.
- Minimal class visit opportunities. Academics are the most important thing about attending college. While many colleges offer summer classes, they may not be as open to campus visitors as they are during the academic year.
- Less likely to be able to spend the night. One of the ways to truly experience life as a student is to spend the night in the residence hall. However, during the summer, residence halls at many colleges are closed to visitors.
- The weather will be great. The reason great weather can be a disadvantage is because students will not be able to experience the weather they would experience if they were a student during the academic year. Experiencing the weather they may live with at the college could be important, especially for students moving to areas with different climates.
Nevertheless, there are ways around most of the disadvantages, besides the weather. The key to great college visits during the summer is to work closely with the admissions or campus visit office at the institutions. If students can be flexible with their campus visit dates and start working with the college well in advance (at least two weeks), the college may still be able to offer everything a college visit during the academic year offers.
- Attend summer visit events. Some colleges offer summer visit events for prospective students. These events can fill up quickly, so students should sign up early. These types of events typically try to provide visitors the same type of experience students would receive during the academic year, including opportunities to meet current students and professors.
- Contact the admissions/visit office directly. When students give the colleges advance notice of the things they would like to see and do while on campus, many colleges will try to make everything possible. This can include sitting in on a class, talking to a professor, and talking to a coach. To ensure students are able to do everything they want, being flexible with dates may help the planners schedule everything the student wants.
The best time to visit colleges is when they are bursting with excitement during the academic year. However, if summer is the only option, students should still visit the colleges they are considering. With a little advanced planning, summer college visits can still give students a good look at a college and its community.