advice on visiting colleges

<p>I'm trying to plan a trip for looking at colleges this summer. </p>

<p>There are a few places I'm fairly certain I'll apply to on my itinerary, but I will be able to visit more as well. Is it worth visiting schools even if you aren't that interested in them? </p>

<p>Most places seem to have tours and group info sessions during the summer. How helpful are these? Is it worth trying to go to them, or can more or less the same stuff be gained from just wandering around on your own?</p>

<p>In order to interview, must you know you'll apply to a school, or can you do an interview at a place you're considering, just in case you decide to apply?</p>

<p>1) Yes, it's worth visiting schools even if you think you aren't that interested in them. The visit may surprise you, and you may end up applying to a few of them! Even if you don't, the visits will help you hone in on what you like and don't like, and make it easier to decide what you really are looking for.</p>

<p>2) Tours are helpful, particularly if you have questions. And during the summer, when it's harder to flag down a knowledgeable student just hanging around. After a few of them, all the info sessions tend to start sounding alike. But I (as a parent) did find them helpful, even if my kid didn't.</p>

<p>3) Junior year interviewers know that not all juniors they interview will apply. You can interview anyway.</p>

<p>My advice is that if you know what you want to major in, meet with someone from that department. The general information sessions are helpful, but they often don't know much about specific programs.</p>

<p>My daughter wants to major in graphic design. We visited three similar universities. From the general informations session, there was very little difference between them. But when we met with someone from the art department, we found that the three schools had very different programs.</p>

<p>One thought to keep in mind among the many you'll have... try to visit a small, medium and large campus to get a feel for each.
Use the time to help take care of the "I wonders..." rather than after the fact. It helps with buyers remorse.</p>

<p>IMHO you're better visiting when school is in session. College is more than just the impressive buildings and manicured grounds, more than a list of classes or programs offered. The atmosphere differs between colleges, even ones that seem similar on paper. By this I mean the type of kids who tend to enroll, what they do in their spare time, the degree to which the kids are cooperative or competitive, etc. When visiting during the summer when students are scarce its difficult to get a sense of this.</p>

<p>As for interviewing, remember it's not just about your accomplishments. Colleges want to understand why you're interested in them, why you'll be a fit at the school. This means you should research the schools prior to interviewing and be able to explain "why X?"</p>

<p>Of course it's always better to visit when colleges are in session. But, for many kids, that just isn't possible, especially if you're looking at schools that are some distance from home. Many high schools aren't thrilled with kids taking time off from classes to go on college visits, and a lot of kids also have extracurricular schedules that make summer the best time to visit. Even though visiting in summer is not ideal, it is still better than not visiting at all, and most people visit again after they're admitted in any case. </p>

<p>If time allows, throwing in a few additional schools is never a bad idea. If you go to <a href=""&gt;;/a> and use the college search engine there, you can enter a zip code and get a list of all of the colleges within a specified distance (i.e., 20 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles, etc.) from the zip code. My daughter ended up attending (and loving!) a school that wasn't on her original list but that we visited because it was on the way to a different school, so you never know!</p>

<p>However, I would recommend trying not to schedule more than two visits a day -- after a while, it's easy to get burnt out! Do take a camera and take pictures, and write down some brief thoughts on each campus after you visit - both can be helpful down the road when you're trying to remember specifics about schools, especially for those pesky "why this college?" essay questions.</p>