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The Pros and Cons of Summer College Campus Visits
Summer is here, and many rising high school juniors and seniors are getting serious about college planning. For aspiring college applicants, summer can be a valuable period of prep and planning. You might get a head start on SAT prep or begin to outline ideas for your college essay. Maybe you are fine tuning your college list or building community service hours. Perhaps you’ve even considered using this free time to visit some college campuses.
Although some students automatically discount summer campus visits, these are a unique experience with both pros and cons. Before you write off summer campus visits, before you read our take on these unique opportunities.
Pros of a Summer College Campus Visit
More Time to Visit Schools
The school year gets busy, and if you don’t want to miss important time in the classroom, you will need to limit your college visits to weekends or school vacations. This makes summer the perfect time to visit schools that are further away. Without the bounds of the school week, you will be able to travel to campuses that are far away and will be able to combine campus visits for multiple schools in the same areas.
Ability to Spend More Time On Campus
Summer is also a great time for campus visits because there are often summer programs available on college campuses. This means that you can spend a prolonged period on campus, rather than just a quick trip. You may even have the opportunity to live in dorms, eat in the dining hall, and use campus resources like the library or student center.
Summer programs provide a deeper experience than the typical campus visit. You’ll actually get a chance to live there for a short period and get a better feel for campus culture through firsthand experience.
Professors May Have More Time to Spend With You
Of course, summers aren’t just less structured for students; they are also less structured for teachers and professors, too. If you schedule meetings in advance, you may find that professors have more time to spend with you during a summer campus visit. Of course, you’ll need to confirm in advance that they are available and on campus, but you may catch them at a time when they are less burdened by the classes and work of the school year and able to spend more time discussing their work and the college itself.
May Get a Look at Summer Research Opportunities
Finally, many colleges are hubs of activity during the summer. It is not uncommon for students to stay on campus during the summer for any number of reasons, ranging from summer jobs, summer research opportunities, or other camps or programs.
By visiting during the summer, you will get a glimpse at the important research and other programs that are available only during the summer months.
Cons of a Summer College Campus Visit
Hard to Get a Feel for Campus Culture
Of course, summer visits aren’t all perfect. For one, your experience will be limited because the students who stay on campus during the summer are only a small percentage of the student body. This means that it’s hard to get a true feel for the campus culture.
Often, students who stay on campus during the summer are highly successful and motivated, having secured a highly competitive summer position. While these students may be more than willing to talk to you about their experiences at the college, they represent only a small percent of the whole student body, and are often an elite group.
Cannot Visit Regular School Year Classes
In addition to missing out on some of the regular school year student body, you’ll also miss out on regular school year classes. During the semester, you can often sit in on typical classes. This gives you a sense of how challenging the academics are and how a class typically runs.
During the summer, though, there are fewer (if any) classes to sit in on and most tend to be upper level classes rather than the introductory levels you’d be more likely to take as a freshman. If you want to visit freshman classes, the school year is a better time for you to visit.
Some Professors and Coaches Will Not Be Available
During the summer months, it’s possible that certain professors or coaches will not be present on campus, meaning that you cannot meet with them or observe a class. Often, professors and coaches use the summer months as a time to travel or do research elsewhere.
If you are intent on visiting a specific class or meeting with a specific professor or coach, you will need to contact him or her in advance to be certain that he or she is available and able to meet with you. There is a good possibility that one or more of the people you are interested in speaking with will not be available.
Admissions Office Might Not Be Operating At Full Capacity
Although most college admissions offices remain open throughout the summer months, they may have limited services available. For example, it might be more difficult to schedule an interview or student-led campus tours may not be available. If you’re interested in a specific offering, be sure to confirm that it’s available in advance of a summer visit.
Summer campus visits are a great way to see college campuses that you might otherwise miss out on, but they are sometimes limited in their offerings. For more information about college visits, don’t miss these posts:
To learn more about maximizing your experiences as you begin the college admissions process, consider the benefits of CollegeVine’s Applications Guidance service. Here, students are paired with a personal admissions specialist who can provide step-by-step guidance through the entire application process, including how to choose the college that’s best for you.