When Should You Do Summer College Visits?
College visits can be an exciting time, when they’re taken at the right time.
I learned this over 40 years ago when my mother and I came to visit Rutgers during the summer after my junior year. Back then, my mother and I did the campus tour in her car, using a map that we had received in the admissions office. Today, Rutgers has a well-staffed visitors center, including well-informed student ambassadors. But you get far less from summer college visits to campus, especially on Fridays, than you would if you came during the fall or spring semesters. Far fewer students are around, many facilities are closed.
If your interests lean towards liberal arts colleges in smaller college towns, summer college visits make sense when there is a special program of interest on campus, one where you might meet faculty in a possible area of study. Gettysburg College, for example, has several summer programs for high school students, most notably a Civil War Institute Summer Conference. Oberlin College hosts several music workshops through its conservatory, including a nine-day Vocal Academy. Your visit might be longer than most, but you will be able to find out:
- Is this school for you?
- Is this academic program for you?
- What courses, or outside instruction, do you need to consider taking during the senior year of high school, if you are interested in this program?
There are some schools where summer college visits much like those you would take during the fall and spring would make sense. Look for the following:
- Larger city universities such as George Washington University or NYU that always have activity on campus. Students choose to remain in the city during the summer for classes or internships.
- The same is true for college towns in cities such as Madison, Wisconsin that are also state capitals or major business centers. The adult population on campus keeps local businesses busy as well as the student population.
- Schools in college towns that have a summer newspaper that covers the campus and local events. Penn State-University Park is one, covering the summer through the Daily Collegian. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, through the Daily Illini, is another.
- The NCAA schedules championship rounds for spring sports including baseball, lacrosse, rowing, softball and track and field on campuses after the academic year is over. If you’re a fan, take in the sport and a campus visit, especially in the surrounding community.
- While their number are declining, there are schools that still operate on quarter systems where the academic year does not end until late June. Seven of the nine University of California campuses operate on quarter systems as do Santa Clara University and Stanford University. Further east, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is another school that has such a calendar.
College visits, while time consuming, are the best way to learn if a campus and community are your best fit. Given the costs of a college education, they are well worth the investment. But you also want to get the best possible picture of a school, whether you come in the fall, spring or summer.
Need coaching for your campus visits as you work through your college list? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.