May 1 has come and gone and the cycle of college admission is definitely shifting gears to the future classes of 2019 and beyond! I have just returned from a week traveling to five states where I attended nine fairs and covered nearly 2,000 miles on the road and it was exciting to see this change happening. For the most part, this week I was meeting juniors and even some sophomores, rather than seniors, and it was evident that the college search is picking up quickly for these students.
As juniors, some students have already started touring schools over school breaks while others are just beginning to think about the list of schools they would like to visit in the next year. No matter where you are as of now, the summer is going to be a critical and busy part of the college search. But where to begin?
Planning your summer can be daunting as you look at your calendar and see family vacations, work, sports and, hopefully, some time for relaxation. But fitting in some college tours is definitely something that many juniors (and sophomores, too) are looking to do. Often admission counselors and guidance counselors will recommend visiting campuses while school is in session, and we agree; however we also realize that it can be difficult to get away from school and summer is often a great alternative. Here are a few tips from us on how to maximize your summer visits.
- Look at your calendar and visit a school everywhere you go.
Where are you headed this summer? Basketball camp? To visit your grandparents in Florida? Camping in the Adirondacks? Family reunion in Charleston, S.C.? (These were all activities that were on my family calendar the summer before my junior year). Once you know where you are headed, find out about schools in the area that you might be able to check out. Even if a school is not at all what you think you are looking for, stop by and take a look and get a feel for what you don’t like.
- How many schools should you visit?
Visit as many schools as you can, but also don’t overdo it. It is easy to get ambitious and think you can visit 15 schools in a week, but limit each day to two schools. When you start to do more than two in a day you may start to miss information. This will only make you want to visit again later on to fill in the gaps.
- Check schedules online.
Summer schedules can be a little different than during the academic year and you will want to be sure to check when tours and information sessions are being offered. Depending on the school, they might offer weekend visits as well. But be sure to look online first!
On your visits
- Take notes.Your summer will come and go before you know it and college visits are only one part of it. The more schools you visit, the harder it will be to remember each one specifically. Get one notebook, or make one folder on your computer that has all of your notes from college visits. Write what you liked and didn’t like. These notes will also help when it comes time to write your supplemental statements in your applications.
- Pick students’ brains.There may not be as many students on campus over the summer, but be sure to ask all those who you meet any questions you have. Hopefully you will also have the chance to connect with many students with varied interests who are on campus over the summer. Don’t leave with a question unanswered!
- Ask about other visit opportunities in the fall.The summer is a great time to go on tour and attend an information session but be sure to ask about additional programming and visit options that will be available once school is back in session. For instance, at Stonehill we will offer Shadow Days as well as an Open House before the Early Action deadline – we’d love to have you back!