Summertime College Visits: Good Idea?

Many rising high school seniors and their families attempt to combine summer vacation traveling with college visits. From a logistical point of view, this makes sense. Parents’ free time is limited, especially in those households where both parents work. Planning a summer vacation excursion that includes routes through possible candidate colleges can be a fun project for the whole family. The important concept, though, is to have a primary vacation goal.

The question that needs to be addressed is: Is our vacation going to be a college-visit-oriented vacation or will we have some other goal (such as visiting relatives, the beach, Disney, etc.) onto which we will tack some campus stops? If the family includes younger siblings, perhaps the college-visit vacation plan is the less popular idea. Try to picture an 8-year-old getting excited about looking at dorm rooms, libraries, and science buildings.

I’m a very positive person, but I thought I would present the downside to visiting colleges in the summertime. I came across a good summary of the downside issues for summer campus visits on About.com, entitled 5 Reasons Not to Tour Colleges During Summer Break and thought I’d share some highlights. You can then decide whether or not summertime college visits are a good idea. 

How to ruin your summer vacation and other helpful tips

Conventional wisdom has it that combining summer vacation with college tours is a smart, budget-conscious way to kill two birds with one collegiate stone. Conventional wisdom is wrong. Here are five reasons not to include college tours in your summer vacation plans:

Colleges are serene in the summer. College campuses tend to be deserted during summer break and major holidays, so you won’t get a good feel for what the school and, more importantly, the people are really like …

Tours are scarce and faculty absent. You won’t find twice-daily tours and easily reserved faculty tete-a-tetes during the summer months. Most of the faculty is on vacation, and tours are usually cut back to just a few a week. You can probably sit in on a summer school class, but it won’t be the same …

Students are hard to find. Even the most helpful campus tour guide has an inherent bias – he or she is paid by the college to recruit new students. So part of the goal on any college visit is to find regular students willing to chat about their experiences …

College tours are neither relaxing nor fun. A thorough college visit is an exhausting, multi-hour excursion, if you do it right. So combining your family’s holiday with a series of college tours is a sure fire way to wreck any sense of relaxation …

Younger siblings will hate you. It’s not fair to any sibling younger than sophomore or junior year of high school. They will quickly tire of the endless tours and boring (to them, anyway) talking …

You may be able to add some more reasons not to visit colleges in the summer. However, since I am a strong believer that one must “trod the sod” before applying to any college, if there is no other time available for a college visit, then summertime is better than no time at all.

Have fun and stay cool!

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