Visiting colleges during spring break or even during the summer is a great way for high school students to explore different college and university campuses.
While some boarding schools and private schools arrange East Coast and West Coast college tours in the fall and spring, you can also do this on your own or with family and friends.
Attending a boarding school can provide a competitive edge to get into a college of your choice. For instance, check out this school on abeachfront campus. If you’re not currently attending a boarding school, you might want to request a tour of one when you’re in the area.
To help you get prepared for college visits and student-led campus tours, we will review the following:
- 3 Tips for Choosing Which Colleges to Visit During Spring Break
- 5 Step Guide to Visiting Colleges
- Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Colleges
3 Tips for Choosing Colleges to Visit
- Which colleges should I visit? Dream schools could be on your list of colleges to visit. However, to ground your expectations, college lists are typically created alongside an academic counselorto ensure you have a chance of being accepted. They typically include both “safety schools” and “reach schools.” If you have extra time in your schedule, It is also okay to visit colleges that are not even on your list of top choices.
- Should I visit my early decision schools? It is wise to visit early decision schools to make sure you feel confident about confirming your decision early and truly are committed to the education and student life at the college or university.
- Should I visit local colleges? It is also useful to visit colleges in your local area that may not be on your “safety school” or “reach school” lists in order to better understand the admission process and prepare you for when you are more invested in the outcome.
How to Prepare for a College Visit
- Contact the Admission Office to ask questions and to schedule your visit. Here are some reminders:
- Plan your spring break college visit ahead of time
- Schedule your college tours at least one month in advance
- Ask questions (e.g. parking, tour duration, dress code)
- Arrange to speak with a faculty member in a department of choice
- Schedule an admission interview following the campus tour
- Ask about meeting students during your college campus visit
- Prepare a list of questions to bring with you on the college tour after checking college websites and speaking with the admission office. Many tours are led by students, so this is a great chance to get important questions answered about academics, athletics, dorms, and various aspects of campus life.
- Plan ahead and gather items the day prior. Check Google Maps to be clear on directions. Set your clothes, keys, notebook, and phone out in advance. Remember to bring cash and credit cards for parking, lunch, and other expenses.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes early to ensure you find parking and arrive before the information session and tour begins. Small colleges are easy to navigate, but universities are quite large and have multiple parking lots and expansive campuses. It’s easy to get lost the first time you visit, so plan ahead.
- Send thank you notes when you get back home to the individuals who interviewed you, guided or spoke to you during the visit, and to any professors you met.
15 Commonly Asked Questions about Visiting Colleges
- What is an information session? According to College Wise, a college counseling service, “information sessions are typically held at the admissions office prior to the campus tour. Groups of students and parents are usually given a short presentation on the college and offered the chance to ask any questions they have to get more information about the school’s offerings, admissions requirements, and more.”
- When are tours scheduled? Most colleges offer tours, information sessions, and interviews during the week: Monday through Friday. Keep in mind that admission tours may be available on Saturdays during the academic year but are only offered on weekdays during the summer months.
- When is the best time to do college visits? Spring break is a great time to visit, but you can also consider the summer months. If you have some long weekends, you can also check with the admission office about options.
- How long are most tours? Allow a half day for each college visit. Campus tours typically last 1-2 hours. Ask the admission office about other steps to handle while visiting so you allow enough time (e.g. interviews, meeting with professors, meetings with students, meal times, and special events on campus). Limit your college visits to no more than 2 per day.
- Is the college in session during your spring break? Given that spring breaks tend to differ widely, you have a good chance of seeing an active campus during your spring break. An easy way to find dates is to check this college spring break vacation schedule by Student Cityor ask the admission office.
- Are there multiple colleges you can visit during spring break? If you live in a suburb or an urban area, you will probably find more colleges and universities in your immediate area. For instance, if you attend a high school in San Diego County, you could go on college tours at the following: UCSD, SDSU, USD, CSU San Marcos, as well as colleges in Orange County and Los Angeles.
- Is the college close enough to visit during spring break? It all depends on your location. For example, let’s say your family is visiting Boston on a vacation, you could check out Boston College, Harvard University, and MIT.
- How do you contact department offices at colleges? Check college websites and look for the admissions section. On that page, you should be able to find phone numbers, email addresses, and inquiry forms.
- On college tours, do you get to speak to faculty members? Some colleges may include a faculty member on tour or arrange meetings for you, but make sure it is scheduled in advance. Choose a department based on your intended college major and meet with a professor in that department. Check the website for key academic information and prepare a list of questions.
- Can students sit in on a class during a college visit? According to The Princeton Review, “Even if you don’t stay over, most schools will allow you to sit in on lectures. Browse the course catalog before you arrive, or ask the admissions office what classes are in session that day.”
- Should students take notes during a spring break college visit? Taking notes will help you evaluate schools as you prepare a list of pros and cons for each college or university. You might also want to snap a few photos of dorms and other areas so you don’t forget key details.
- Can students stay in dorms during a college visit? The National Association for College Admission Counseling indicates that “many colleges offer prospective students the chance to spend the night in a dorm room. Some colleges set aside specific weekends (usually in the spring) for prospective students, but many others will work with you to schedule an overnight that fits into your timetable.”
- Should I visit the student union after the admission tour? It will certainly give you a peek into campus life beyond academics. As cited by The Honor Society, “Student unions are instrumental in engaging students in campus life. They organize a myriad of activities, including cultural events, workshops, guest lectures, and recreational opportunities, that enrich the college experience.
- Should I attend campus events during my campus visit? If time permits, it is a great chance to meet students at a game and other campus events.
- What is the best way to prepare for college visits? Follow our 5-Step Guide to College Campus Visits and review the Frequently Asked Questions carefully (above).
Our guide to visiting colleges has hopefully helped you choose the right colleges to visit, get prepared for your college visit, and know some basic information about the college visit and campus tour process.
Empowerly – 7 Tips for Choosing Which Colleges to Visit.
College Express – Top Tips to Help You Decide Which Colleges to Visit in Person
Questions?Feel free to reach out. As a boarding school, we are here to assist you in finding the right high school experience, as well as inform you about college counseling services.