Is it worth visiting colleges over the summer when school is not in regular session? We believe that any visit is better than no visit at all. If schedules don’t allow a campus visit during the spring of junior year or if the fall of senior year feels too late, then hit the road. While summer may not be the ideal time to visit, it frequently is the most practical time for busy families.
College campuses during the summer usually fall into one extreme to the other. Many colleges are crowded with kids, albeit members of a much younger demo-graphic. Colleges may offer sports camps and enrichment programs to elementary, middle and high school students. So, taking a college tour and being surrounded by unruly 5th graders can be a little disconcerting. On the other hand, some college campuses are eerily empty when you tour the campus, making it hard to imagine what it would be like to have a cappella groups serenading you as you walk by or the hum of college students in surround-sound when classes let out.
It’s hard to get a handle on the campus culture or the vibe of the student body when they’re not there but try anyway.
Pros of summer campus visits
The pace of summer generally permits families to spend more time at each visit where they feel they can get to know the college, the campus and the community a little bit better. The more you can do over the summer the less anxiety you’ll feel in the fall. Students can fine-tune their college lists over the summer and be both confident in their list and a step ahead of many students who wait until the fall of their senior year to begin the process.
It’s also easier to find the time to meet with a professor and/or a coach or advisor of a club or extracurricular activity during the summer. Talk to a staff member from the Study Abroad Office or the Career Center to give you some perspective on the range of opportunities. Most importantly, sit down with some students and ask direct questions such as: “Where else did you apply?” “Why did you choose to come here?” “What’s one thing you would change?”
Cons of summer visits
Some colleges are ghost towns during the summer, with limited hours, closed buildings, etc. You’re not going to get the feel of the activity on the quad and the cam-pus “vibe” during the summer. Construction projects may project a negative sense of campus, but construction is a sign of a financially healthy college,
Compressing too many college visits in too short a time span can ruin everyone’s experience. Most importantly, a rushed college visit doesn’t let the student wan-der around a campus on his own, talk to random students and form his own opinions. So, if summer is best for you, visit then.