college tours

Summer is almost here. Before you pack your bags for a relaxing vacation, consider scheduling some college visits. For rising juniors and seniors, summer is a great time to visit colleges that interest you.

I encourage my students to visit as many colleges as they can. Ideally, visits should occur before the application process even begins.

Designing a college list can be overwhelming. With hundreds of institutions to choose from, how do you decide which ones would be the best fit for you? And further, how do you convince your top choices that you would be a great fit for them?

College visits are a very helpful way to decide which colleges deserve a spot on your list, and which should be omitted. Even if you’ve read a college’s website from top to bottom, it’s difficult to imagine what daily life would be like there unless you physically spend time on campus. Taking a campus tour and chatting with current students will give you a much more vivid understanding of a college’s overall atmosphere.

Visiting a college is valuable because it allows you to visualize yourself as a student there. Pay attention to the language your tour guide uses to describe the college. Do the students seem energetic and driven, or relaxed? Is the campus dense and walkable, or more spread out? Can you see yourself fitting in socially? Can you imagine yourself walking or biking to class every day?

The ultimate question you should ask yourself is: how do you feel when you walk around campus? Can you envision yourself spending four years here?

If the answer is no, then you can easily cross that college off your list! On the other hand, if you feel very comfortable at a particular college, it probably belongs on your list. A college that looks great on paper might be underwhelming in person, and a college you feel lukewarm about might seem much more appealing when you actually visit.

It’s impossible to design a college list based solely on ranking, location, and academic offerings. You need to make sure the colleges you apply to will also be a good fit for your personality and lifestyle preferences. Successful applicants are able to convince an admissions committee that they are a good fit for that particular college. And it’s much easier to sell yourself as a good fit when you’ve already visited campus and have established a physical and emotional connection with the college.

My students have always enjoyed their college visits and found them to be very beneficial. Visiting colleges clarifies which colleges they truly prefer, and makes their applications much more compelling.