Summer is the perfect time to visit colleges, right? You’re not in school so you have time to travel without having to worry about missing something. The weather is nice so if you end up visiting a school that is also located in a nice vacation spot you don’t have to rush home. Your visit will be fresh in your mind for when you start applying. Plus, summer is when everyone visits schools, so maybe you can visit with your best friend!
Well, while all of those things are great about visiting schools in the summer, unfortunately they don’t cancel out all the problems a summer visit can bring to your overall visit experience. Though it may be the “perfect time,” here are some of the problems with summer college visits.
Where Are the Students?
While most colleges host some summer classes, for the most part—especially at smaller, private institutions—the campus will feel fairly barren. Even if there are some students around, there is no guarantee that the students there actually attend the school year-round. Especially at state schools, students taking classes may just be there to fulfill general education requirements before returning to their usual school. So, the people you are seeing might not be an accurate representation of the college—if there are people around at all.
And the problem in this lies in the feel of the school. Though it can’t be measured numerically like acceptance and graduation rates, the atmosphere of a college is just as, if not more, important. I have stepped onto colleges I loved on paper and not liked the feeling the student body gave it—and I’ve also had the exact opposite happen. So, never discount the way the students going about their daily business may affect your visit. And you can’t really get that in the summer.
Nothing Going On
Along the same strain of there not being many students around, the summer also means there aren’t a lot of events going on, specifically ones put on by students and clubs. Seeing these events going on can help you get a feel of what happens at a school other than academics. Even if you don’t have the ability to go to an event during your visit, seeing posters around campus can give you an idea, but those posters are as sparse during the summer as the events are.
It is hard for colleges to do renovations when all of the buildings are constantly in use. The summer is the perfect time for them to fix up buildings or work on the heavy, daily routine damaging construction on new buildings. When I was touring colleges, during some of the summer visits there were huge sections of the campus or important places I wanted to see that I couldn’t go to. This hurt my experience and also didn’t allow me to see everything I wanted to in order to make a decision about the school. Additionally, scaffolding and tractors take away from the beauty of a campus.
Harder to Get in Contact
Is there a specific professor you want to talk to or the head of a department you want to meet with to confirm that their program is the one you want to enroll in? Well, during the summer those meetings might be harder to make. Not all professors teach in the summer, or they may be on vacation when you visit. While during the school year they may be busy, during the summer they might not be there at all. Even a meeting that only lasts a few minutes is better than no meeting at all.
Overall, while the summer may be the most convenient time to visit colleges, it is the time that gives you the least accurate representation of what life at the college would actually be like. If you want to see if you can actually picture at the school, it is better to visit when things are in full swing. Though most people can’t leave town on weekends to go on tours, look into going on a college road trip during your spring break. As long as your spring break doesn’t line up with the spring break of the schools you are visiting, that may be the actual “perfect time.” And even if you have no option other than to visit summer, at least keep in mind that what you see isn’t a perfect representation of the college.