Finding time to visit colleges during the school year can be challenging. Students are busier than ever, and often don’t want to miss classes to visit a college. They worry they will fall behind. But is summer a good time to visit, since many college students go home for the summer? Yes, if summer is what works for your family, use it to visit colleges.
Visit the school’s website and look for the admissions section, prospective student section or the visit section. Look to see if they offer in-person visits during the summer. Attend an information session with admissions, or a session held by your prospective major to get specific details about what you will experience as a student and what you will need for admission. Tours of campus, especially when led by a student tour guide, will help you see the amenities, classrooms and dining hall (if open). The student will share their experience and help give you a glimpse of academic and campus life.
Be prepared that things are slower in the summer. It is also time that colleges do a lot of maintenance–so you may find things closed or under construction. There are often summer camps, causing dining halls and gyms to be overrun by elementary and middle school students. There will not be many college students on campus, but there are other ways to connect with students and learn about the campus dynamics.
Social Media is a great way to get the student perspective on their schools. Follow school accounts on social media. If you are interested in a certain activity like ROTC, theater, Greek life–see if they have their own social media accounts. Parents can often join parent pages (and get a sense of any issues on campus as parents will be very vocal). Another great tool is the free app ZeeMee. ZeeMee is a platform where prospective students can follow colleges and interact with their students and admissions staff. They can also interact with other prospective students–meeting roommates and friends before they hit campus. While you can find just about every college on ZeeMee, the formal college partners can be found at https://colleges.zeemee.com/partners
Before you visit do a deep dive on the college’s website and social media. Browse the digital version of the school’s newspaper to learn about the past year’s events and activities. Take a look at the curriculum offered in your major area (are these classes you want to take). These will generate some questions you might want to ask your tour guide or admissions representative. Take a look at the courses they require for admission so that you can make sure your senior schedule is ok or ask any clarifying questions.
And most importantly–make sure you stop by the bookstore for a cool sweatshirt!