In the past, a summer vacation probably meant a trip to the beach, a tourist spot or a national park. This summer, try something different. How about planning a college visit?
Before you gasp and roll your eyes, it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, because there are colleges all over the country, you can plan a campus tour into pretty much any summer travel plans. And if you do, you’ll have a head start in the fall when all of your friends are trying madly to complete their applications, do homework and visit colleges.
Now you might think summer is not the best time to visit a college, and the truth is that it isn’t. However, with a little imagination, a summertime visit can be worthwhile. You can still take campus tours, see the school’s surroundings and speak with students. If summer school is in session, you can listen in on a class. You just have to picture the campus as having more students and a higher level of activity.
Before you head off to plan a college visit, as well as while you are walking the campus, ask yourself some serious questions about the college and what you expect.
• What are your academic goals?
• How strong is the program for your major?
• Are there professors in the department who specialize in an area you are interested in?
• Do you prefer intimate classes or ones with enough students to fill an auditorium?
• What opportunities will you have to interact with your professors? What is the faculty-student ratio?
• Will you be required to write a thesis or take competency exams in order to graduate?
• Does the school offer extracurricular activities you would enjoy?
• How strong is the athletics program? Does the school offer intramural sports?
• What kind of programs or services does the school offer, such as career counseling and internship programs?
• Do most students live on campus or commute?
• What is campus housing like?
• What size student body fits you?
• Is the campus in the inner city, countryside or somewhere in between?
• What is the community around the college like?
• How safe is the college campus and the surrounding community?
• What kind of weather does the school have throughout the year?
• How far is the college from home?
• Is the school known for attracting students of a particular political view or religious affiliation?
• Is the college affordable?
• How much of a burden will the cost of your education place on your parents?
• Do you really like the college?
While you are visiting the campus and interacting with the students and faculty, keep these questions in mind. Though no school is perfect, you will want to select the one that meets your needs the best.
Harvard graduates Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the authors of nine books, including Get into Any College and Accepted! 50 Successful College Admission Essays. Ask them your questions about getting into college and check out their books at supercollege.com.