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Are Summer College Visits Worthwhile?

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Are Summer College Visits Worthwhile?

Most parents of high school juniors—or rising seniors—feel some pressure as this summer before senior year rolls around. The college application process looms. The essay topic remains a mystery. Then, there’s the biggest question: Where to apply?

As a parent, you may see summer—when your child has no classes, no sports, no extracurricular activities, and perhaps you have some time off from work—as a good time to get a jump on college tours. Campuses in summer are generally sleepier, slow, and far emptier than during the academic year. So, is it worth your time—and your student’s—to take some tours?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some colleges are in session year-round. Find out which of the ones on your list might be. Those would be the visits to put higher on your summer visiting list, if possible. Remember that many schools, particularly in the South, start earlier than most high schools do. Although the very beginning of the school year is not quite the same as seeing a school in full swing, you may be able to see a “live” campus just before your child’s senior year begins.
  • Even though there are probably fewer tours offered during the summer, and though the campuses are less bustling, you can practice taking tours. During a less crowded tour, you practically get your own personal tour guide. Try questions out to determine whether there are some questions you’ll ask at other colleges, on other tours.
  • What you can most likely do, regardless of season, is to schedule an interview. An interview will give your student a chance to connect with the school and to ask questions more specific to her or his interests.
  • If your family is traveling near a campus your child is interested in seeing, and your child is eager (or at least, willing!) to take a tour through a somewhat empty campus, then most certainly it’s a good idea (two birds/one stone). It’s an especially good idea if the college is far from home and a future visit is iffy. It may be that a look around the campus, even in a sleepier form, helps you and your child prioritize a next visit, given that it’ll take additional effort to make it.
  • Always be sure to take some time to go off-campus and feel out the town. During the summer visit, this can offer a nice chance to relax as a family.