Many college experts will advise you to not visit colleges during the summer. They will say you can’t get the full college experience. However, sometimes summer is the only time you can visit colleges. While the experts are right when they say summer college visits will be different than visits during the busy academic year, summer college visits can still be beneficial and well worth the trip. There are pros and cons to visiting colleges during the summer. The pros are great and luckily some of those cons don’t have to be cons if you plan in advance.
The Pros of Summer College Visits
- No missed school. School is out for the summer and you won’t miss anything important in your classes.
- Family vacation. If you are already planning a trip to the area, it can be convenient to visit colleges while you’re in the area.
- The whole family can visit. Sometimes one or both parents cannot visit colleges when you visit during the school year. If you visit colleges while on vacation with the family, it will allow your parents to visit. In addition, your younger siblings can visit and the visit will give them the opportunity to start thinking about college.
- Great weather. In many parts of the country, summer offers beautiful weather. You probably won’t have to deal with much rain or snow like you might during the academic year.
- Plenty of parking. Most colleges do not have enough parking on campus. It can be difficult to find parking when visiting during the school year.
- Smaller tour groups. Campus tours during the academic year can be quite big and impersonal, especially at more popular colleges. Summer tours are typically smaller, allowing you to the opportunity connect with admission representatives and campus tour guides.
The Cons of Summer College Visits
- Fewer students on campus. Colleges will feel different with and without students. This means a summer college visit will not always allow you to get a feel for the real campus atmosphere. There will be fewer opportunities to talk to current students during the summer.
- Fewer student activities. Student activities can really make your college experience memorable. Unfortunately, there are not as many student activities happening during the summer while you are visiting.
- Minimal class visit opportunities. Academics are the most important thing about attending college. Many colleges have summer classes, but because of their accelerated pace, they may not be open to prospective students.
- Can’t spend the night. One way to truly experience life as a student is to spend the night in the residence hall. However, during the summer, residence halls are sometimes closed to visitors.
- The weather will be great. The reason great weather can be a con is because students will not be able to experience the weather they would during the academic year. Experiencing the weather you might live with at the college can be very important, especially for students moving to areas with different climates.
Making Cons Better
There are some ways around the cons. The key to a great college visit is to work closely with the admission or campus visit office at the colleges. If you can be flexible with your college visit dates and you can start working with the college well in advance of your visit (at least two weeks), the summer visit can still 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 sign up early. These types of events typically try to provide prospective students with the same type of experience you would receive if you visited during the academic year. The organizers will do their best to have numerous current students and professors available at the event.
- Contact the admission/visit office directly. When students give 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 you want.
The best time to visit colleges is when class is in session because the campus will be bursting with excitement. However, if summer is the only option, visit! With a little advanced planning, summer college visits can still give you a good look at a college and its community.