Weekly College Column

 Making the Most of Spring Break: A Guide to Campus Visits for Families

I know it’s just the beginning of February, but this is a great time for families to huddle together and start planning which colleges they’d like to visit over spring break. I tell families that Spring break is the best time to visit if a school is in session — it’s important to check to see if your high school calendar overlaps with college calendars. Assuming colleges are in session, visiting a humming campus in springtime is a great way for students to determine if they feel a connection to the school. If families have already made other plans for spring break, it’s fine to make the visits over the summer, but oftentimes you’ll see more 10-year-olds in soccer uniforms than college students.

These visits can play a crucial role in the decision-making process, allowing prospective students to get a feel for the campus atmosphere, academic environment, and overall college experience. Let’s explore how families can make the most of their campus visits over spring break.

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Before embarking on your campus visits, conduct thorough research on the universities you plan to explore. Familiarize yourself with the campus layout, academic programs, and any specific departments or facilities you’re interested in. Create an itinerary that includes campus tours, information sessions, and meetings with faculty members or admissions officers.
  2. Schedule Official Campus Tours: Many universities offer official campus tours led by knowledgeable guides. Schedule these tours in advance through the university’s admissions office. Official tours provide valuable insights into campus life, facilities, and the overall vibe of the institution.
  3. Attend Information Sessions: Most colleges offer information sessions where admissions representatives provide detailed overviews of the institution, including admission requirements, academic programs, and financial aid options. Attending these sessions can answer many of your questions and provide valuable information for decision-making.
  4. Explore Campus Facilities: Take the time to explore campus facilities such as libraries, dormitories, classrooms, and recreational areas. Pay attention to the condition and accessibility of these spaces, as they will contribute significantly to your overall college experience.
  5. Meet with Faculty Members: If possible, schedule meetings with professors or department heads in your field of interest. This can provide insights into the academic environment, research opportunities, and the faculty-student relationship at the university.
  6. Connect with Current Students: Talk to current students to gain firsthand perspectives on campus life. You can often find student ambassadors during tours or through scheduled meet-and-greet events. Ask them about their experiences, favorite aspects of the university, and any advice they may have for incoming students.
  7. Explore Surrounding Areas: Consider exploring the surrounding community and city/town. The environment outside the campus also plays a role in your overall college experience. Evaluate factors such as safety, available amenities, and recreational opportunities.
  8. Take Notes and Photos: Bring a notebook to jot down your thoughts and observations during each visit. Capture photos of important places and facilities. These notes and images will be valuable when reflecting on your options later.
  9. Consider Overnight Stays: Some colleges offer overnight programs where prospective students can stay in dorms and experience campus life firsthand. If available, take advantage of these opportunities to get a more immersive sense of the college environment.
  10. Reflect and Debrief: After each campus visit, take some time to reflect as a family. Discuss your impressions, compare notes, and consider the pros and cons of each university. This debriefing process will help you make informed decisions as you move forward in the college selection process.

Spring break campus visits are an exciting and crucial step in the college exploration journey. By planning ahead, scheduling official tours, and engaging with the campus community, families can gather the necessary information to make well-informed decisions. Remember that each university is unique, and finding the right fit involves considering various factors that contribute to a fulfilling college experience.

 Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@bierercollegeconsulting.comwww.bierercollegeconsulting.com


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