by Paula Wheeler
If you’re dreaming of spending spring break relaxing at home or on a remote beach, you might want to consider another option. For many reasons, spring break offers an ideal opportunity to visit college campuses!
During your full week off of school in March or April, many colleges will be in session. This is great news, because the best time to visit a college in which you are interested is when students are present. Not only does this give you a much more realistic picture of the atmosphere and vibe of the campus, it also provides opportunities to talk with current students and find out what they like or dislike about attending that school. Seeing and talking with students is one of the best ways to determine how you might feel about living and taking classes on a given campus.
Spring is also the time when our juniors are honing their college lists, as we like them to have a pretty solid idea of which schools they’ll apply to by June. This is because they need to work on their college essays – including responses to each college’s supplemental questions – over the summer. If you haven’t visited any colleges, spring visits can help you determine if you’re fairly on target or way off base with the attributes you thought you wanted in a school. If your visits change your mind about your preferences, there’s still time to adjust your criteria and identify schools that match up. More specifically, when it comes to making those final cuts, visiting a school in the spring can make it clear as to whether it merits a spot on your final list.
Because many students and families understand the value of visiting schools during this time frame, the time to book your visits is now. Tour space is limited and many book out a couple of months ahead, so it’s a good idea to target your schools and secure your spots as soon as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to register for a tour and an informational session at each school you visit, but if you have to choose just one, you should probably opt for the tour.
Finally, make sure the admissions office knows that you are coming, especially if it’s a school that tracks “demonstrated interest.” You also may be able to schedule an onsite interview at schools that offer them, or at least meet your region’s admissions officer, if they’re not off on a recruiting trip! In any case, you can send a brief follow-up note to them regarding your visit, and mention an aspect or two of your experience that made a particularly positive impression.