With high school students going on February break next week, you may be thinking it’s good time to start visiting college campuses. Here are a few things to consider about the season you travel in when making appointments for campus tours.
Many colleges look their bleakest at this time of year, particularly in the northern parts of the country with bare trees and biting winds blowing across campus. Although your student might not be impressed with the scenery, this actually represents a realistic picture of what the student will experience for a large chunk of their school year. Of course, if your student likes skiing and the college is covered in snow, winter is a perfect time for schools to impress prospective attendees with their frozen beauty. It’s also a good time of year to get a sense of what the student body is like and whether or not your child feels he or she will fit in.
Spring can be a beautiful time of year at many campuses, especially if the season comes earlier than it does in your own hometown. Colleges usually hold their accepted student days in the spring, so if you take your child to visit a school once in the winter, they can use this day near the end of their senior year to make a good comparison. April school vacation presents another good time to group together visits in the same region, but if you’re traveling far enough to fly, airfares tend to go up during school vacation weeks. Remember also that most colleges go on summer break in early May so if you wait later than this, you won’t get a good sense of what the students there are like.
Summer often presents the best and most pleasant time to travel with your high schooler, but since colleges are not in regular session you will get more of a sense of the area and not of the students themselv
es. A summer visit might be good to gauge interest, but you may need to go back again when school is in session.
There is a lot of activity on college campuses at the start of the year, and a lot of positive energy. Student organizations are busy recruiting members and campuses usually look their best either covered in greenery or piles of brightly covered leaves. It’s a great time of year to judge the student body, but it’s also a busy time of year at high school as well. Ask yourself if it will be too stressful for you and your teen to fit a college visit in with a potentially crowded schedule.
Whatever time of year you decide to make a trip, check the college’s website first for a campus tour schedule as some days or weeks may be blacked out, and ask yourself what time of year it is that you want your child to experience a school they are interested in (or that you may, or may not, want them to be interested in…). And don’t forget their younger siblings, you can save yourself some trips later if you include them now.