When to Start Your College Visits
College visits are important. Would you buy a car without seeing or test driving it first? Probably not, and that's why you should always visit the schools on your list before you apply. You don't want to spend four years of your life at a campus you don't like or don't feel safe at.
Even though most students don't start seriously thinking about college until late in their junior year, you should start visiting schools long before you're nearly done with high school. Just think: Even if you completed only two campus tours a year, you'll have visited eight different schools by the time you're a senior. This will help you make a more informed decision when it's time to send off your applications. Plus, you won't feel rushed if you start early - can you imagine cramming 10 or 12 college visits into just a few months of your senior year?
Freshman year isn't too early to start visiting schools. Even if you don't want an official tour, walking around campus with a parent or friend can be really beneficial. The sooner you start your visits, the better off you'll be! There are plenty of opportunities starting freshman year you can take advantage of.
Spring break is a popular time for college visits. Not only do you have the time off school to make scheduling a visit easy, but you'll also get a feel for the campus while students are still in class instead of at home for summer break.
Another option for college visits is summer break. You have plenty of time to make a few visits and see what the campus and local town or city are like. While there may not be a ton of students to talk to, you should have a tour guide who's able to answer all of your questions.
Three- or four-day weekends can be a fantastic time to visit a school. You'll be visiting in the middle of the school year so you'll be able to see where students hang out on campus. If you're there on a Friday or Monday that isn't a holiday, you may even be able to sit in on a class.
Visiting during winter break isn't necessarily the best time to stop by, but if you can't make it any other time it's better than nothing! Depending on when the college's finals are, most students may already be home for a few weeks meaning you won't be able to talk to many people or sit in on a class. Keep in mind that a long tour of campus may not be very fun if it's freezing or snowing outside, so you might want to wait until the weather warms up if you can.
Are you ready for your college visits? Here's a college visit checklist to bring with for reference.