By the end of the spring term of junior year, you and your college counselor will develop a working list of colleges. These lists may be anywhere from 20-40 schools in length. Most families make good use of the summer vacation time in order to visit, attend information sessions, tour and interview at a number of colleges on their lists. While some families lament the lack of students on campus during the summer, it is worth noting that there is still much that you can find out about on your visit, including the strengths of the different academic departments; the relationship between the town and the campus; the condition of the residence halls; the academic, athletic, arts and dining facilities; and the application and admission procedures for that college. Also, you can always go back for a second visit during the school year, if the school is still high on your list (Please see Policies section of this handbook for more information about campus visits). Tips for college visits
What to do while you’re there
- If possible, visit before you apply. The visit will help you decide if the college stays on your list. Some schools are sensitive to your level of interest; thus, a visit in which you fill out a response card and possibly interview can boost your chances for admission.
- Plan your visit and set up appointments as far in advance as you can.
- Read up on the school before you go and/or visit its website. Learn as much as you can about the school and its community before you visit.
- Including your parents can be helpful, in order to compare notes and share impressions while they’re still fresh in your mind. But be sure to schedule in some time alone as well so that you can form your own impressions. Parents remember: The admissions officer should remember your child and not you.
- The college’s website will generally include what is offered and when, driving and parking instructions and recommended hotels in the area.
- Take a tour—but remember, the tour guide is only one member of that community. You should not apply to a college or cross it off your list based solely on your experience with a tour guide or admissions representative.
- Have an interview (if offered)
- Eat a meal. You will learn a lot about the culture of the community just by observing what goes on in the dining hall.
- Meet with faculty and coaches, if appropriate. You will need to call in advance and ask the admissions office the best way to set up these meetings.
- Sit in on an admissions information session, if offered. It will round out your knowledge of the distinguishing features of the school and may offer helpful admissions hints.
- Stay overnight in a dormitory, if possible. Many colleges sponsor overnight weekends, and we can help set up these kinds of visits for you through our contacts in the admissions office.
- Attend a class or two.
- Find a college newspaper. When college counselors visit campuses, this is one of the first items they pick up. You will learn a great deal about student opinion, the news of the community, and controversial campus issues.
- Check out the bulletin boards on campus.
- Take notes. Especially if you are visiting more than 2-3 schools on a trip, writing down your impressions will help you to make decisions later on. One family suggested bringing a video camera—we think that’s a great idea.