Summer vacation is a convenient time for high school students to begin the exciting process of visiting colleges.
While lazy beach days, summer jobs and swim clubs consume the entire summer break for some, high school students can also use the summer months to start planning for their college careers. With a little preparation, students can make time during summer not only to take a dip in the ocean, but also to wade into collegiate waters by touring campuses.
Initial college visits can be used for the purposes of choosing the type of campus that appeals to a student and determining what criteria are important when choosing a college. Day trips to local schools or short road trips can provide insight into whether a student prefers a big or small school, a campus environment or an urban location. These trips can also help students compile a focused list of specific schools that they want to further research during the college planning process.
Hannah Schreiber (‘19), made college tours part of her summer plans after her freshman and sophomore years of high school and credits the visits as a valuable tool in creating her college list.
“Visiting college campuses is extremely important because it gives you a chance to experience the college firsthand . . . . I feel that I owe a lot of my college list to my experiences touring colleges,” Hannah Schreiber wrote.
Campus visits can shed light on whether a student’s vision of each school is accurate. Daniella Schreiber (‘19), also took part in college visits during past summers and found that touring different colleges helped direct her to schools that would be a good match for her.
Daniella Schreiber wrote, “Before I started the college process, I thought that I wanted to go to a certain school. I had no idea how small it was until I toured it. That one fact changed my entire view of that school . . . . Visiting a bunch of different colleges is so important because you get a feel for what you really want.
Students that have interest in several colleges in a geographic area should consider taking a road trip so they can compare schools while memories are still fresh. An advantage of planning summer visits is that students can explore multiple colleges in a single trip without missing school.
Molly Phillips (‘20), toured a variety of colleges in the Northeast during the past two summers and describes the leisurely pace of the visits as beneficial to her college planning process.
“Touring a school’s campus was very helpful for me . . . . Although schools are very quiet in the summer . . . it is nice looking at campuses when they aren’t packed with students,” Phillips wrote.
In addition to spending time on campus, Phillips enjoyed having the extra time to check out the restaurants, shops and nightlife available in each college town. This supplemental information about the town can help students decide where they feel most comfortable attending college.
A campus visit during the school year can still be a key part of the junior year college decision process, though, because summer visits only provide limited information about a college. To get a full perspective of campus life, Dr. Matthew Covington, an Assistant Principal at East, recommends that students plan college visits during spring break or a long weekend in the fall or spring.
“When classes are in session, the visitor will be able to sample the food, see how crowded the campus is and how students are traveling from class to class,” Covington wrote.