Making College Visits Count: Summer Edition

By Sylvan Learning

High School

With more time to travel and better weather for exploring, summer is a great time to dive into the college search. On a quieter campus you can spend more time speaking with students, professors and administrators to help your teen get ahead of the college selection process. Here are a few tips to make the most of summer college visits.

First, Set the Groundwork: Do your due diligence.List everything that’s important to your teen’s ideal college experience and build your visit list from there.

  • SchoolsizeDoes your teen want to be in an intimate learning environment or a large, diverse school setting? Figuring out the ideal school size can help whittle down your list.
  • GeographyLocation, location, location. The college experience goes way beyond the classroom. Weather, proximity to home and things to do on campus and off are all important considerations when deciding on the right environment for your teen’s college experience.
  • Program offeringsCan your teen accomplish what s/he wants to accomplish at this institution? Research everything from degree and department offerings to study abroad programs and extracurricular activities.
  • Grade and testing requirementsWhen visiting schools, especially early in your child’s high school experience, be sure to get smart on the college’s grade and testing requirements to help your teen set some academic goals for the upcoming school year.
  • Scholarship programsMake sure you look into scholarship programs in advance of your summer visit. Once you get there you can network with appropriate advisors to get more information.

ScheduleEarly:Identify your list of schools and start making calls. Scheduling visits for early in the summer months gives you the opportunity to experience the summer class sessions and gives you time to grasp all of the application requirements.

Ask Admissions: With lighter loads over the summer, advisors, professors and counselors are more accessible. Set up time with the appropriate administrators so you can get on their calendar during your summer visit.

Be a Student for the Day: The tours are great, but let’s get real — there’s more to college than living in the library. Build extra time into your visit so you can have lunch on the quad, meet up with the right professors, attend a summer class or two and browse the bookstore.

Get a Broad Perspective: Whoever signed up to give your college tour is probably the school’s biggest fan. Don’t be afraid to ask random students in the lunchroom or the hallway for their thoughts on the university. If your teen already knows what his/her major will be, have a candid conversation with students in that same discipline to find out why they chose that school and how they’re enjoying the program.

Get to Know the City: The city your teen’s university is in is just as important as the university itself. With classes being out you can take advantage of the smaller crowds and tour the city. Take the school shuttle and visit the local shops and museums, find out how close the dorms are to supermarkets and gas stations, and gauge overall safety.

Give a Grade: And don’t grade on a curve. Give an honest, unbiased assessment of the school immediately after the visit ends.

Gear Up for Round Two: If you like the summer visit, go again in early fall so you can see the campus in full action.

College visits are a fun and exciting time for you and your teen to plan the next stage of his or her life. Make it count!Do you have a college visit tip? Share in the comments section below.