Is it a bad idea for D22 to visit US universities in spring 2022, right before A Level exams start?

Has anyone done this (i.e., fly to the US for a campus visit right before A Level exams are scheduled to start)? If so, how did you minimize the disruption to exam preparation?

I am asking because our planned US college tour last summer was cancelled due to Covid and I am not sure it is feasible to try again next summer. So, that leaves Xmas break 2021 or spring 2022 if D22 wants to see US colleges (fingers crossed she gets an offer or two) before making her decision.

Many thanks.

It’s not the same thing but my D didn’t do any spring visits because of AP exams and not wanting to miss class time.

I’d go in the winter if you can’t get here this summer because of covid.

Because of COVID, most colleges have moved their in person tours to a virtual format. You can do these from your computer at home. Other downside of visiting during the summer is that most colleges are rather empty. Summer sessions have fewer students. But because of COVID, most colleges are doing hybrid or entirely virtual teaching.

By Spring 2022, I imagine the COVID situation in the US to be much different. Most people will have been vaccinated by then, and I imagine that most colleges will have instruction in person. Why not travel when colleges are still in session (typically until April-May)? This would be the best timing to get a feel of the campus while students are still there.

Note that most of the elite colleges in the US don’t really pay attention if you visited or not. So it doesn’t really help with admissions. Farther down the pecking order though, many colleges do pay attention to visits. Especially in the Top 100 range. Paying a visit and doing a tour can sometimes tip the scale in your favor. In no particular order, here are a few that come to my mind: Connecticut College, Hamilton, Wash U, Rice, Tulane. I’m sure there are many more. But most of the Ivies and Top 20 don’t really track student visits.

Thanks, @momofboiler1 and @sgopal2. D has done virtual tours/info sessions, which have been helpful. Good point about visiting during the summer.

D22 has only lived in the UK so we thought it would be beneficial for her to visit campuses in person to get a better feel of what it would be like to attend college in the US. Spring 2022 would be ideal in terms of efficiency (visiting only colleges where she would have offers - again, fingers crossed) but it might disrupt her A Level exam prep (she will also be applying to UK universities where offers are conditional on A Level results).

Perhaps winter 2021 is the way to go. Thanks again.

Her A level exams will be quite important. I honestly would not disrupt that. Visiting colleges is a huge time suck, especially when you have to get on planes. I suggest a long weekend to visit top two choices when kids are on campus.

You’re right. It is 5-6 hours flying from the UK to the US East Coast and she might also apply to schools farther west. Thanks!

Assuming you get a week’s break, I’d pick half term in October 2021 or February 2022, since US schools will be in session then. You won’t have offers by then, but October would be good for narrowing down the application list.

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That option also just crossed my mind. The timing of her school’s autumn 2021 half-term is perfect, and it’s such a pretty time of year in the US northeast. Thanks.

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I’d go for half term too.

BTW if you haven’t come across it, here is a lengthy thread by a (superstar) British girl on her process applying to US schools, including touring, applications and the final decision. Stay to the end for the denouement (which many Americans found incomprehensible):

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I visited US colleges from the UK during a February half-term. Flew in on the Saturday, visited 5 schools Monday to Friday and a final one on the Monday that required an additional flight on the Sunday, and then flew home Monday evening. Had a day for jetlag on the Tuesday and then was back to school on the Wednesday. Exhausting but was very do-able.

Thanks for this! I’ve only read her intro post and look forward to going through the thread. But what’s with her beef with American football? :smile: Although my D22 has lived in the UK all of life, I exposed her from a very young age to college football (think toddler dressed in my uni’s sweatshirt and holding a mini Nerf :football:), such that she knows Alabama is a perennial power and Michigan has disappointed of late (she loved the ending of the Wolverines-Spartans game in 2015).

Thanks, @CollegeBoundBrit. Really helpful to know that someone similarly situated has done what we’re thinking of doing. Given that my D will also apply to UK universities, I think she would like to limit her US applications to 5-6 colleges (but we’ll see how things evolve).

That’s why you need to go all the way through to the end…I won’t spoil it for you, but she changed her mind pretty dramatically by the time she made her decision. It’s particularly interesting to see what a British 17 year old thinks of US colleges (and students) after visiting them.

Still going through the thread but one thing that has stood out halfway through is that several people advised OutOfKantrol to apply only to reach schools given the strong and more affordable options available in the UK (my D has a similar academic profile and is likely to pursue a STEM major). That’s also been our thinking. Do you think that’s sensible?

She would have been a slam dunk for Oxford (note the perfect scores in GCSEs) but wanted a broader liberal arts education in the US. Though to me if you are full pay there’s a big question of why you would pay $300K to go to a tippy top US college if there are less expensive but still very good options. I think her eventual decision reflected that (what else you can do with $300K looms a lot larger for most British people, including myself).

In STEM it seems to me even more questionable unless you need US qualifications (eg engineering or medicine) to work here.

It’s really not necessary for her to tour schools before applying, whatsoever, and even less so now, what with virtual tours. The notion that she should fly to the US and jeopardize her A-levels, to tour schools that she may never get into, to decide where she wants to apply, is just ridiculous.

She (and you) should do your research online beforehand. If she has absolutely NO idea what she wants to study, then she should focus on large schools with many available majors. If she already has a specific major in mind, then she should focus on schools that match her qualifications and geographic preferences, and offer the major that she wants, that have strong departments in that major. If she knows that she wants a small school environment, and it has the majors that she likely wants, then narrow the list that way. Does she want to be in a big city, or on a suburban campus but within striking distance of a big city (and I should tell you, most college students wind up not utilizing the nearby city, but just stay on their suburban campus), or does she want to be at a rural, isolated campus? What climate can she put up with? What level of local city crime are you willing to take a chance with? Are you limiting her to the East Coast, or are you willing for her to have to take two, maybe three flights to get home

As you can see, once you apply these selection criteria, you’ll probably be able to have pared down your list to a dozen or so schools, and that’s where she applies. Then, AFTER she has been accepted to schools, once she knows her final list of acceptances (and maybe wait-listed schools, too), THEN in early April you have her come look at the schools, and have her decide which one she wants to go to, and possibly rank her wait list choices, too, just in case they offer her a spot over the summer.

You’re misunderstanding the timing here. A levels take place in May of your senior year so this is precisely the concern, do you wait until April and disrupt revision to visit schools you’ve already gotten into.

Much better to see places the October before to help decide what appeals to you and where to apply to.


Oh, I see. Hmmm, no senioritis for Brits, I guess. Yeah, that’s a problem. I would agree, then, that one would have to come tour before one knows where one has gotten into. Late September or early October is a perfect time of year to come, then, but I would definitely guide the student into narrowing down their application list by the criteria listed above. Eventually, the college tour like that turns into an “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” kind of experience (really dating myself by that movie reference!)

Would a trip taken beginning on March 31st, encompassing the first week of April, interfere so greatly with A-level prep? Common reply date is April 1, but many schools give replies a bit earlier, so student could arrive in late March, see the ones that she’s already heard from, and then on April first could tour the rest, be back in UK by the 5th, or even earlier, depending upon how many acceptances received.

Another vote for half term to avoid interfering with A levels prep but also to avoid visiting campuses in winter when many of them are almost totally empty.