The summertime seems like the perfect time to visit colleges, right? The sun’s out. You’ve got time off from school to swing a trip across New England. Mom and dad can take some time off from their jobs. What better time can you possibly visit the universities that you’re interested in applying to in the fall, right? Well, the answer is lots of other times! The summertime is not a great time to visit colleges and that’s because one of the most important components of why you’ll want to attend an institution is missing in July and August.
And that’s the students! At most colleges across America, students are off campus during the summer months. Maybe they’re back at home or on an internship. But it’s unlikely that they’re on campus except at, say, a school like Dartmouth where sophomores are required to spend their sophomore summer at the school. Sure, you’ll find some students on every campus completing a summer course here and there, but how are you going to get a sense of what the student body is like if they simply aren’t there?
What if you matriculate to a university only to find out that the vast majority of students have purple hair? What if the male-female ratio isn’t as you had hoped? What if the students just aren’t happy? We strongly recommend to all of our students on their college visits to conduct smile tests. Smile at a student and see if they smile back. If they do, it’s a good indication that this student is happy at the college. If the student doesn’t, it’s a good indication that the student is unhappy. Maybe the student is even considering transferring. Obviously don’t just do it with one student as you want a good sampling population. But do it on a few and we bet you’ll find a trend.
If summer is the only time when you and your family can get away to visit colleges, it’s better than nothing. But we strongly recommend visiting colleges at other points during the year so you can actually interface with students — a key component of your college experience!
And, while you’re here, watch a video on what to do on your college tour.