As the school year comes to a close and summer recess approaches, many families start thinking about their summer plans. For families of high school juniors and seniors a visit to a college or and colleges may be included in summer vacation plans. A summer college visit enables students and their families opportunities to meet with campus representatives, learn about the college, and explore the town or city the college is located in. It allows for both the student and family to get a sense of the distance from home, transportation needs, campus size and layout. Whether visiting on your own or participating in a scheduled campus visit, here are some points to consider for your summer visitation.
Number of students on campus:
- Just as high schools break for summer recess, colleges do break after the spring semester has concluded in mid May. After final exams and graduation commencement ceremonies, college students pack up their belongings, move out of student housing and vacate the campus. Many colleges use this time to offer summer sessions to their own students and visiting students who are attending colleges elsewhere. Summer sessions is an option for students and course offerings are limited. The number of students enrolled during in this period are much smaller than what you would see during a Fall or Spring semester.
- Summer presents a perfect time for construction to take place on the college campus. It enables the college to build, renovate and clean without interfering on student learning and campus activities that take place during the Fall and Spring semesters. During your summer visit, there may be areas of the campus that will not be accessible to visitors. While you may have been unable to see everything due to construction, you now will have witnessed what upgrades, buildings, and upcoming projects that you can expect to see in the future. .
- During summer months you are sure to find many empty parking lots and parking spaces. Seeing vacant lot and spaces are especially exciting if you plan to bring a car to campus. Keep in mind that some colleges have policies for cars on campus and specified student parking. The empty parking spaces that you see in the summer will look very different come the Fall and Spring semesters. As you tour the campus, take note of the parking lots proximity to residential student housing. Chances are if you are able to bring a car, you will be required to park your vehicle in these lots.
Not all parts of campus may be accessible:
- For cost savings purposes, some buildings that are not being utilized may be locked. Just as your parents probably have said “Don’t waste electricity”, colleges also seek ways to lessen expenses and promote sustainability.
Campus offices and staffing:
- Staffing may be limited during the summer months. Just as you look forward to summer break, so do college administrators, faculty and staff.. Generally the Admissions, Financial Aid, Residential Services, Student Accounts, and Registrar’s offices remain open and available to speak with and answer questions from parents and students. While these offices may be open, staffing may be limited due to vacations and flexible scheduling. If your plans include speaking with a department representative be sure to contact the campus ahead of time to find out if the office will be opened and someone will be available to speak to. If you have a specific person that you are looking forward to meeting during your visit, try to schedule an appointment to meet with them.
Limited office hours and closures:
- Who wouldn’t agree that a quality of life is important and helps maintain wellness and productivity? It is absolutely important. So important that some colleges will enable office staff to use flex time and offices to extend business hours during the work week to allow for a three day weekend. Remember, just because a campus is open does not mean that offices are. Therefore, making sure both the college and it’s offices are open and accessible is especially important when making your college visitation plans. Once again, if your plans include visiting and speaking with an office representative, be sure to contact the office or department before you arrive on campus.
Open for business:
- There is a movie “Vacation” which is about the family who wants to visit a theme park called Wally World. They have their whole cross country trip all mapped out, pack up their car, and on the way run into some funny mishaps before they arrive at their destination. After days and hours of driving they finally arrive at Wally World only to find that it is closed. Don’t let the Wally World scenario happen to you and mess up your vacation plans. Make sure that you have taken all the necessary steps before you depart for your visit.
Plan on a return visit, if possible:
- A summer campus visitation provides you a chance to “fall in love” (as it is referred to in the field of Admissions) with the campus. If your visit has confirmed your intentions to add or keep the college on your list for consideration, submit your application or enroll, a return visit during the Fall or Spring semester is strongly encouraged.
The campus visit has a major impact on students’ college selection decisions. Gathering and having the right information is vital to the ultimate decision as to whether to apply or enroll in the college. Time is valuable and therefore it is imperative that students and families are able to maximize their time while visiting college campuses. As a former College Admissions Administrator, I also know how important this visit is to the college, and the best times to visit campuses to get the most out of the visit. My work with prospective students and families enables me to take a proactive approach to the college visit, addressing the individual needs of the student and presenting information that have a significant role in the college search and selection process.
As a champion for student success, I believe that college is not just about admissions criteria and academics, it’s also about being able to see oneself as a member of the campus community. It’s about knowing about and taking advantage of the college’s resources, services and activities for social or emotional well-being. For these reasons, Steps To College prepares students for upcoming campus tours or open house events, schedules and coordinates campus visitations that address the individual students academic, emotional and social needs.