Summer campus visits are great if you weren’t able to go during the school year, or even if you’d like to check it out for a second or third time. Keep in mind, however, that campus will feel quite different because less students are there. The whole town itself may feel quieter than usual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a meaningful visit and impression on the school. Despite the different vibe of campus, here are four ways to maximize your campus visit and learn what you need to know about the school at hand.
1. Take an official campus tour
Many colleges schedule campus tours throughout the summer. A tour guide will give you an overview of campus, including important buildings with resources you’ll likely use as a student, as well as historical info about the school itself, and sometimes, trivia and fun facts about school culture and traditions. This is a great way to get a better sense of the physicality of campus. If you’ve decided on a major or know your future residence hall, ask your tour guide to point these spots out to you. In addition, these tour guides are often current students, so you could ask them informal questions about student life. Campus tours are often conducted in groups, so you may be able to chat with another prospective or incoming student as well.
2. Attend an information session
Information sessions are frequently held in conjunction with campus tours, either before or after them. These sessions cover topics like the admissions process, available academic and social opportunities, and student life. Compared to campus tours, they are more formal and offer time for you to ask admissions officers or administration what the application process requires, as well as further information on your potential major/department. Session holders can often refer you to another student or contact who could speak better to your questions or interests, if you’d like.
3. Visit the campus library, student center, and other similar resources
Take the time, beyond the campus tour, to visit important buildings on campus like the library and student center. You’re likely to spend a good amount of time in the library, whether for finding print resources or utilizing the quiet spaces and available technology. Check out bookstacks of your interests to see what they have to offer.
Next, the student center is a great place to see what student life may look like and how students congregate for study sessions, club meetings, or late night snacks. Additionally, see what the campus has to offer in regards to your interests: Do they have an art museum you’d like to browse? An athletic or recreational center if you like sports? Tell the front desks of these places that you’re a prospective or incoming student, and many times, you can visit for free or get a special pass to check out what they have to offer.
4. Check out surrounding neighborhoods
College is stereotypically known as a bubble, and you can definitely stay within that bubble if you so choose! However, the establishments surrounding campus often have great resources, whether academic or social. Ask your tour guide for more info or do some online research of what to see and do in this town. Spend an hour in a local coffee shop, walk around downtown (if there is one!), and check out local museums, nature attractions, and community centers. Keep in mind that the town will be your home too, and it can provide opportunities beyond textbooks and classes.
Summer visits don’t have to be unhelpful or dull. Coming to the above activities with questions prepared beforehand can make your visit even more productive. Lastly, consider visiting with your family or a close friend, who can help make your visit more enjoyable, ask questions you’ve forgotten, and give you an outsider’s perspective you can trust.
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.