How to Make the Most of Summer College Visits

How to Make the Most of Summer College Visits

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It's ideal to tour colleges in the fall or spring, but it is often hard to get away with crazy sports and extracurricular schedules, standardized testing, etc. When school's out for summer, many students and parents have much more time.

If you are planning to visit campuses this summer, here are some tips and things to keep in mind:

  1. Not all schools offer Saturday info sessions and tours. Try to visit when you can go on a tour and attend an info session. Information on info sessions and tours can be found online on school’s respective admissions websites.
  2. Don't forget to interview. Fewer people tour in the summer, which means fewer people are on campus interviewing. Use this to your advantage. Do not miss out on the opportunity to interview on campus if you have had time to adequately prepare. Everyone should prepare for admissions interviews! You only get one chance to make a first impression, and though interviews are not the most important component of your application, a killer one can certainly help.
  3. Check what classes are being offered during summer session. Some schools have very active summer sessions, while others do not. There may not be a formal class-visit program offered through admissions during the summer months, but you can still reach out to a faculty member and ask if it is okay to sit in on their class. You can also call and check with your department of interest and see if they can give you permission to sit in on a class.
  4. Connect with and possibly meet with someone from your department of interest. Colleges are open in the summer, even if they don't look too busy. Call or email your department of interest a few weeks ahead of time. Someone from the department may help you out with sitting in on a class, as well as be willing to speak to you personally or steer you in the direction of any other departmental opportunities that might be available during your visit.
  5. Check the calendar of events. Some college campuses are dead in the summer, while others have a lot going on beyond summer session classes. If there is something going on that interests you, try to check it out. This information could make a nice addition to a "why school" essay. 
  6. Take pictures, take notes, and get the names, emails, and phone numbers of everyone you meet. Send thank you emails, or a handwritten note to your interviewer. In many cases, you'll need this info if you end up applying.
  7. Don't forget to check out the surrounding city, town, or suburb. Keep in mind, in some areas, folks head out of town for the summer. If it feels dead, ask around to find out if this is the case or if it's like that all the time.
  8. Keep in mind the "normal" temperature ranges of the school you are visiting. How a campus looks and feels in the summer might not always be how it looks and feels during the school year. For example, Florida campuses will be very hot on a summer visit, but temps are much more moderate September through April—the bulk of the time you will be on campus. This tip applies to traditionally colder campuses, too. Minnesota summers are gorgeous but don't forget the average temps during the school year are a bit lower, and can dip into the 20s and teens in the winter.  

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