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

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

The best time to visit a college is when it is in session!

While summers are often the "best" time to visit because students are on vacation, so are the college students. If you visit over the summer, you will miss out on seeing what the students look like, and how comfortable you feel in that culture. Do the students seem artsy and quirky? Do they sport nose rings and green hair? Or do they seem more "preppy" to you? Often this sense of "fit" or comfort level is more of a gut feeling. Also being on campus, when the college is in session gives you the opportunity to meet and chat with professors, who can be quite gracious and generous with their time. My favorite time of year to visit is either the Spring or the Fall, when the weather is beautiful and the campuses are at their best. Don't forget though winter may be a "challenging" time on many campuses.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

When to Visit a College Campus

The best time to visit a college campus would be when school is in session. I've visited a lot of college campuses, both privately and on organized tours. Unfortunately, most of these visits were at times when classes were not in session because of my own availability. It is much more revealing to visit a college when students are on campus and classes are taking place. You can get a sense of the campus culture, talk with current students, maybe arrange on overnight, sit in on selected classes - all of this in addition to the campus tour and information session. Of course, you should avoid going during exam periods.

Dori Middlebrook
Owner Dori Middlebrook Educational Consulting

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

The best time to visit a college campus is when students are there and school is in session. This way you can get a real "feel" for what the student population is like and what life on campus would be like. If possible you should try to visit campus at the time of year you fear the most. If you are considering a school located somewhere with unusually hot weather (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, etc.) visit in August or May. If you are considering a school with extreme winter weather (Wisconsin, Maine, Massachusetts, etc.) visit in January or February to see what the cold is really like. Visiting campus is like trying on a pair of jeans, you won't know if the school is a good "fit" for you unless you "try it on". A campus visit should be a priority before you make your final school decision.

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.