What's the best time to visit a college campus?

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Our counselors answered:

What's the best time to visit a college campus?

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

What's the best time to visit a college campus?

Here is my video response to the question.

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

What's the best time to visit a college campus?

Fall or spring (before May).

Carolyn Mulligan
Principal Insiders Network to College

Always Try To Visit When School Is In Session

I know that sometimes a hectic schedule or sports can preclude visiting while schools are in session, but I always prefer visiting campuses when students are there. And somehow summer school doesn't feel the same to me. I have been on the same campuses in the summer and during session, and they have very different feels to them. In the summertime, they often have high school students on campus doing sports camps and music camps, so they are not college students. So to get a real feel for the vibe of a campus, and the flow of students to and from class, visit during the school year. It also gives you the opportunity to chat with students in the Bookstore, the cafeteria or just sitting on a park bench between classes, and ask them what they did last weekend!

Sandy McMaster
College Admissions Consultant My College Hunt, LLC

Timing is Everything

You definitely want to visit a college campus when school is in session, preferably during the fall or spring. This will give you the opportunity to get a feel for the student body, see how crowded or empty the campus is (library, cafeteria, classrooms, walkways) on a regular school day. If school spirit is important to you, time your visit for a home game. - but plan ahead, depending on the college, hotel accommodations might be difficult to get. While all college campuses may be beautiful in fall, if weather is an important factor, you might consider visiting when the weather is not at its best: winter in Chicago or Seattle, summer in Tempe... If you're a high school junior, try to sneak into an accepted student tour in the spring. This is when seniors are making their choices among the colleges they've been accepted to, and they tend to ask the hard-hitting questions.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Classes In Session

Most people advise students to visit college campuses when classes are in session during the fall or spring. That's good advice because high school students can then talk to lots of students, drop in on a class or two, and get a good idea of student life (clubs, sports, dining facilities, etc.) However, because juniors and seniors in high school have insanely busy schedules during the fall and spring, many families choose to visit in the summer, spring break, or winter break. If you end up visiting during this time -- don't despair! You can still get a feel for the campus and its surrounding environs, and you will always see a student or professor around the library! And... you never know...if you are lucky enough to be on campus during a college's "jan term" or "winter intersession" -- you might be able to get a sense of what special offerings the college offers during that time.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

The Best Time to Visit a College Campus

The best time to visit a college campus is when school is in session. You will be able to get a better feel for the campus vibe than during the summer when less students are available. Always try to eat a meal in the cafeteria not only to sample the food that you will be consuming for four or more years but to watch and observe how students interact. The student center is also a good place to observe students in action. What tables are set up for activities, fund raising, events and causes? Can you envision yourself living and studying among the students you see. In order to visit when school is in session you may need to go during your spring break. Francine Schwartz Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Best Tip Ever!

Visit your top choice on an SAT Saturday in the fall. The numbers of visitors are smaller and the opportunity to seek out a department head and make a meaningful connection could be a game-changer. 

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Undoubtedly the prime time is when...

colleges are in session. You can sit-in on a class, have lunch in the college cafeteria, meet a few students and really get a feeling for the campus culture. Many schools offer an overnight visit opportunity to seniors.

kati swanson
Counselor TMCC HS

The best time to visit a college campus

To get the most out of your college visit, schedule it when school is in session. This will give you a real feel of campus life. Visiting while the college is in session will also give you a chance to speak to current students.

Helen Cella

What's the best time to visit a college campus?

When school is in session