Should you visit colleges this summer? It’s a question a number of parents and students have been asking us of late. As loyal readers of our college admissions blog know all too well, we’re generally against visiting colleges over the summer months. And why? Because at most highly selective colleges — with exceptions of course like at Dartmouth College where sophomores spend their summer in Hanover — students aren’t on campus. In our view, what’s the point of visiting a college when students aren’t present? How can a prospective student truly then tell if they like the school’s vibe? How can they see if the students really are happy? They can’t! But sometimes students have no choice but to visit over the summer months because they didn’t visit during the previous fall, winter, or spring. And, of course, this past year was different for all prospective students because campuses were closed due to the pandemic. So should this year’s batch of rising seniors visit campuses this summer?
We’re torn. We of course want students and parents to visit colleges. It’s vital to get a feel for the schools to which these students will soon be applying. But we also want students to get credit for these visits since visits are a key way to Demonstrate Interest, an important factor in highly selective college admissions. And, yes, even if a college tells you that they don’t measure your interest, don’t believe them. With the exception of a school like Harvard University, a school that is quite confident you’ll go if you get in, they’re all insecure. They all want to boost their yields by admitting students who are likely to matriculate. If a student doesn’t visit, it’s an important indicator they have no intention of actually matriculating.
So since college tours and information sessions are still offered only virtually at the vast majority of elite universities, we recommend holding off a little bit longer to see if they’ll be back up and running in-person soon. We have a feeling in-person tours and information session offerings are just around the bend — maybe in late July or August. We don’t want you to visit only to then have to go back and visit so you can sign in for the tour and information session. We want you to be able to knock it all out in one fell swoop as it will save you time and energy. So do stay tuned to the admissions websites for the colleges you’re interested in applying to this coming fall since announcements may be coming soon about the reinstatement of in-person campus tours and information sessions.
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