Thinking of visiting colleges in September or were you hoping to knock out college visits this August? Many students and parents choose to visit colleges over the summer months. It seems logical enough. School’s out. The sun’s out in the sky. College campuses look pristine. Students won’t have to miss days of high school classes and catch up on homework as they drive through New England and other parts of our nation, knocking out visits to many of America’s most elite institutions.
But at Ivy Coach, we would never recommend that our students visit colleges over the course of the summer. And why? Because to get a feel for a university, you’ve got to see, well, actual students. Duh. At most colleges across America, college students aren’t on campus during the summer months. Are there exceptions? Sure. Sophomores at Dartmouth College are required to spend their summer quarter in Hanover, New Hampshire. But Dartmouth is an exception, not the rule. On most college campuses over the summer months, you’ll find middle school-aged students participating in tennis and basketball camps, high school students participating in summer enrichment programs, and a whole host of others. You just won’t find many students who actually attend these universities.
What happens if you visit over the summer months, you end up applying Early Decision or Early Action, earn admission, matriculate, only to come to realize that everyone at the school has purple hair? You may not have wanted to go to a school in which so many students had purple hair. Of course, purple hair is a ridiculous example but our point is made. We believe it vital for college applicants to get a feel for a university by getting a feel for its students. We believe in conducting the smile test — smile at students and see if they smile back. It’s as good an indicator as any of their happiness at the institution. Meander off from the college tour and eat a meal in the dining hall. Wander through a dorm (although don’t sneak into students’ rooms — that’d be quite weird).
But if you did all of this in July or August, you’d find dorms full of middle school kids and high schoolers. If you’re a rising senior, start planning your college visits — for September. When students who attend these universities are actually on campus. So you can see if they have purple hair and all.
Oh, and, parents, don’t forget to ignore your child on campus visits!