The first round of college visits should occur toward the end of junior year or at the beginning of senior year. The first round is to narrow the college search and refine the list. In the spring of the senior year, another round can help you make the final decision where to go. Read this post, and then decide if you’d like to consult with us on this topic.
- Try visiting when classes are in session. Attend a class or two.
- Meet with students and faculty members in your prospective department. Is the department secretary friendly?
- Meet with your geographic representative. If your geographic representative is unavailable, let her know by email that you visited and are sorry to have missed her.
- Meet with your geographic representative in the admissions office. Arrange your meeting by email ahead of time. Parents: let your son or daughter do this. If your geographic representative won’t be available then, make sure she knows you’ve visited and that you are sorry to miss her. Try to meet with someone else on the admissions team. Ask questions with the “Why us?” essay in mind. Ask questions that you can’t easily look up on the college’s website.
- Visit the town. Walk around. Or ride around using public transportation.
- See if there’s an option to stay overnight in a dorm. If not, maybe a graduate of your high school would be willing to put you up.
- Eat in the dining hall. Don’t just check out the food. What is the atmosphere like there? Try a local restaurant or two as well.
- Check out the bulletin boards around campus. Are there events that would interest you? Attend one of the events, if you can..
- Talk to random students. Your tour guide might not tell you everything.
- Take pictures! After a few college visits, colleges will seem to blend together.
- Treat it like a family vacation and have fun!
When to go on College Visits
Visiting a college campus is one of the most exciting steps in choosing a college. If possible, it’s best to visit colleges before your applications are due. That way, you can be confident you’d be happy at any of the colleges you’re applying to. It’s also best to go is when the college is in session. That way, you’ll get to see it when classes are meeting and day-to-day activities are taking place. Below are some guidelines on when to visit. Plan your visit well ahead of time, so you can make sure that you see what you need to see and meet with the people who can tell you what you need to know.
Mondays through Thursdays are ideal for visits since campuses are generally in full swing. Visiting on a Friday may not be as practical, as students, faculty and staff might be busy with social activities starting Friday afternoon.
High school holidays that fall on Mondays are often great opportunities for making college visits. Many colleges are in session on these days — and you won’t be missing any of your high school classes.The late summer and early September before senior year are convenient times to visit, since many colleges begin their fall semester as early as mid-August. The spring of junior year is a good time if you’ve already researched colleges. Spring break is also good if you play fall sports or are considering applying under early action or early decision plans, which usually have application deadlines in November of senior year. It may be more useful for seniors to wait until the fall through winter to make their visits. That timing can help seniors narrow college lists.
College Visits After You’ve Been Accepted
Many colleges invite their accepted candidates to spend a few days on campus before the May 1 reply date to encourage them to enroll. This is a good opportunity to make some in-depth comparisons between the colleges that have accepted you. However, if you’re planning to wait to visit colleges until after you’ve received acceptances, keep in mind that you may have only a few weeks to visit and make your decision. Most colleges don’t mail acceptance letters before April, and the standard reply date is May 1.
When Not to Go on College Visits
Check specific dates with each college so you don’t arrive when the campus is deserted. Call the college or look on the college’s website for the academic calendar to find out when breaks, reading periods and exam periods are scheduled.
Colleges are not in session during:
- Thanksgiving weekend
- Christmas week
- Winter and spring breaks
- Summer, unless there is a summer session
College classes don’t meet during:
- Reading period
- Exam weeks
- Saturdays and Sundays
The admission office may be closed to visitors at certain times. For example, admission officers may be too busy to meet with you in May and April — that’s when they’re reviewing applications. Check with the college. Finding the right fit is vital to selecting colleges. And the college visit is vital to finding the right fit. Good luck and have fun!