When to Visit Where?: The Two Phases of College Visiting

Spring break always brings travel plans, but those plans are seldom more important than in a student’s junior year as they and their families hit the road touring a long list of colleges to kick off what is essentially the opening stages of the college application process. What many families do not know, however, is that Junior-year spring break actually straddles the line between two very different types of college visiting phases: exploration, and targeted interest.

Exploring Colleges

Even for those who have seen older siblings go through the process of applying for college, no high school student is ever prepared to fully grasp the task ahead of them as they approach their senior year. For this reason, and of course, to begin compiling a list of schools to apply to, families often visit a wide number of colleges, usually of many different types and in many different locations, so that students can get a feel for just what these campuses feel like, and what campuses they would be willing to call home-away-from-home for four years of their lives. This is a natural impulse, but many families begin this process when they really should be ending it. Spring semester of Junior year should be the absolute latest that trips of this kind take place, as once summer and Senior year arrive, students have too little time to waste any on visits to schools they will not be applying to.

Demonstrating Continued Interest

Starting in the summer before Senior year and continuing until they have been admitted to schools, students should shift to a different mindset concerning college visits: strategy. This strategy revolved around the idea of ‘demonstrated interest.’ Effectively, however, demonstrated interest means that schools are more likely to admit students, whether in the first round or off of deferrals and waitlists if those students show real, demonstrable interest in that school. One of the best ways of demonstrating this interest is visiting campus, taking an official tour, and talking with faculty, even and especially if the student has visited before. These are the kinds of visits to spend time on once the application cycle has begun, and a particularly strategic visit can be the difference between rejection and acceptance to a dream school.


Tags: Higher Education, College, College Counseling, College Applications, College Admissions, College Consultants, College Counselors, College Visits, College Tours, Campus Tours, College Selection, School Selection, College Lists, Demonstrated Interest