Summer can be an ideal time to visit colleges. You have plenty of free time, and you can talk your parents into incorporating college visits into vacations and other trips.
However, there are some special considerations to keep in mind when touring during the summer. Keep the following tips in mind for best results.
1. Cost & Priorities
Touring colleges isn't free. While it's a valuable part of your search, some families struggle more than others when it comes to making special out-of-the-way trips. Especially when these trips may include hotels and dinners out. For this reason, you may want to begin your tours closer to home by visiting some local colleges. Even if you really have your heart set on a city school in a neighboring state, touring a local college can be good practice, and who knows, you may learn something about the school that makes it more appealing than you thought!
After you have warmed up by visiting one or two local schools, make a priority list of which schools are the most important to you to see. You and your parents can talk about how to fit those visits in during the summer.
2. Visiting During Off-Season
Keep in mind when you tour colleges that you are visiting in the colleges off-season. While there are probably some summer classes running, it is not nearly as busy as it would be during the fall. This can be both a positive and a negative. The slow season may give you more time and space to explore and ask a lot of questions, but it also may mean you have less opportunity to see how the college actually operates or speak to staff and faculty who may currently be on summer vacation.
That being said, you can probably still take advantage of sitting in on a class, eating a meal in the dining hall, and speaking with students who are taking summer classes. Make a special effort to get off the beaten path to explore parts of the school you are interested in.
3. Prepare Ahead of Time
During the summer you will probably have more time than usual to devote to college research, so take advantage of this time! Before you even schedule your tour, research the college thoroughly by visiting their website, reading reviews, and checking stats on the school at reliable sources such as College Factual.
Prepare a list of questions to ask the tour guide or other college representatives on your visit. Here are some examples of questions you can ask:
- How available are professors to meet with students outside of class?
- Does the school help students find internships?
- Are there any study abroad opportunities?
- How many students were employed full time a year after graduating?
- What kind of support is available to students who are struggling with class or who have other special needs?
3. Record Everything
Purchase a notebook or journal before you begin your tour to record your thoughts and impressions of each trip. Write down the date of the tour, the time you spent on campus, the name and contact information of your tour guide if possible, and any other places you visited. Record the answers to questions you received and any other even that stood out to you. Take pictures and video with your phone to go through later.
As you continue in your college search, the notes you made will be invaluable and keep all the colleges from blending together in your mind.
Start today by forming a list of college matches to visit.