No matter how much you think you know about a college, there’s always more to learn. And the best way to add to your knowledge of campus culture, the kinds of students who attend and how they relate to one another, who serves on faculty, how programs and majors are structured, the quality and availability of student services, and the general “feel” of a college is by taking the time to visit.
Colleges know they are more likely to attract students who schedule information sessions and take tours. And they put a great deal of time and thought into considering how they present themselves to the outside world. It’s up to the visitor to look deeper—go off the beaten path and do a little independent investigative work by talking to students and observing campus life.
While colleges may consider the visit as “demonstrating interest,” you need to think of it as doing your due diligence—an opportunity to truly understand why a college deserves to be on your list. In so doing, you’ll be rewarded with a solid foundation for articulating in an essay or during an interview why it is you want to attend a particular college or university.
But it’s hard to get a clear picture beyond basic bricks and mortar if you schedule time on campus during student holidays. For that reason, you might want to take into consideration “spring break” weeks when putting together plans for a college road trip during the coming months. And luckily, there are two really good resources for you to use:
Springbreak.com: Mostly targeted to college students anxious to book flights and hotels, this site provides start dates for an impressive number of colleges listed alphabetically—from Adelphi (March 11) to Yale (March 4).
STS Travel: Again, this list is designed to help undergrads plan their vacations, and sorts colleges by dates—from Augustana (February 18) to Elmira (April 15). Note that the links STS provides don’t take you to college websites!
Hopefully your spring break won’t coincide with their spring break. But if it does, remember that a campus visit under less-than-perfect circumstances is better than no visit at all. It’s just that important!
Nancy Griesemer is an independent educational consultant and founder of College Explorations LLC. She has written extensively and authoritatively about the college admissions process and related topics since 2009. Never miss one of Nancy’s articles – subscribe to her mailing list below.