Is your family headed on a trip or vacation this summer? I know you’ve identified the nearest amusement park, but have you considered stopping at a college campus along the way? “College?!? But it’s summer!” Yea, I hear ya. But if you’re driving by the campus that is real far from home, what have you got to lose? Or, if your family hasn’t decided where to go yet, suggest you all visit your dream school while on the way to some other destination. Most campus visits only last a few hours. Take a risk! And get your mom used to the reality that her baby is leaving the nest in a couple years…

How do I know if there is a college I might be interested in visiting?

Start by searching your options! College Profiles allows you to select criteria you might want in a college. Pick your desired state(s), major(s), etc., then a list of colleges that match will appear, with more detailed info. Are you really interested in leaving the state for college and the fam is traveling to Illinois? Only search colleges in that state. You might visit colleges you had never considered.

How do I set up a visit?

Contact the college admissions office – with at least two weeks’ notice, if possible. It’s best to visit a college when it’s in session (meaning summer isn’t ideal), but there may be a few classes in session that you can peek in on to see what at least one classroom looks like “in action.” When I was going on visits in high school, I knew I wanted to study education and asked to “sit in” on a class. I got to participate in small group discussion and feel like a real college student! It’s so worth making the ask of the admissions office when you set up your visit.

What should I expect when I visit?

Don’t expect the college to give you all the information you need – there’s so much to show you, and they don’t know what is really important for you to see and know. So go prepared with questions. I remember really wanting to better understand the housing set-up (since I would live on-campus). I actually stopped students in a residence hall we visited to ask their real opinions on what is like to live there – and necessities for your dorm room.

Also, a faculty member in your interested career area may be available to meet with you to discuss what the courses will be like and opportunities you’ll have if you attend their college. Just be sure to request a meeting with the admissions office when you set up your visit.

Check out these additional campus visit tips and resources.

Your summer break can include more than working your part-time job and swimming at the pool – include an interesting side trip on your family’s vacay. Go to College Profiles to find what college campus you will visit!