Road Trips 101: Visiting Colleges Over Spring Break
Since most colleges have schedules that differ from high schools, visiting on your spring break is a great tactic because you'll get to see the school while there's still life on campus.
February 23, 2016
Thinking about planning a college campus visit road trip? It’s a great strategy to utilize your spring break to make smarter, more informed college decisions!
Spring break is the perfect time to visit colleges and packing in as many visits as you can – while still having time to see each campus.
Since most colleges have schedules that differ from high schools, visiting on your spring break is a great tactic because you’ll get to see the school while there’s still life on campus. Here’s what you should consider when planning your college visit road trip.
Keep the following factors in mind when planning your trip, so that you’re sure to get the most out of each experience:
Map it out
It makes sense to map your route, minimizing the travel time in between each school. Pick an area or region with several schools you’re interested in so you can visit multiple colleges over the length of your trip.
Plan your route ahead of time, so you’ll know each location you’d like to visit and the travel times in between.
That way, you can schedule your stops based on dates and take any appropriate college tours while you’re there.
Schedule stops ahead of time
Let each school know you’re coming – including the date and time you plan to be there.
See what tour options are available for prospective students and schedule your stops according to the availability of tours as well as when school is in session.
It’s always best to see a campus when school is in session because it’s the closest feel you’ll get to what campus life is like on a daily basis.
Take it easy
You need to plan your trip so that you have enough time at each school to take a tour and soak in all the aspects of student life.
Don’t schedule back-to-back tours all in one day at different schools in the area!
Take the time necessary to explore each campus so you can get all of your questions answered while you’re there.
Along for the ride
Consider who you should take along for the ride. Parents are always beneficial because they can help you make the tough decisions by seeing the school with you and they often are able to provide invaluable guidance, since they’ve known you, well, forever. Or, perhaps, you have friends considering the same schools.
Take whomever you like but make sure they’re people who will help you make a college decision based on your needs, not their own.
While you’re there…
In addition to taking college campus tours, ask if you’re able to sit in on any courses, taste the food in the dormitory cafeterias and, perhaps, even stay in the dorms for a night.
You want to maximize the opportunity to get as much of the typical student’s experience possible so you can see if it’s somewhere you can picture yourself attending for the next four years.
Catch up or make contacts
If you’re lucky enough to know anyone that attends the school you’re visiting, contact them beforehand.
Ask if they’d like to meet for a meal or coffee to discuss their experiences in college as well as any recommendations for what you should check out while you’re there.
Often times, they’ll be happy to give you an unofficial tour, which can be more enlightening than the college-sponsored tour visits.
If you don’t know anyone, ask the school if they have any students available for questions. Many schools have students on campus that have volunteered to do so.
Initiate unofficial chats
As you’re exploring campus, talk to students and ask any questions you may have.
You’ll likely get the most truthful answers from students you encounter, rather than students who have already been given “appropriate” responses from the school’s administration.
If you’re visiting multiple colleges one after another, it may become hard to keep straight what you’ve learned about each school.
It’s also difficult to remember how you felt while being at each school. Take notes on both – don’t just jot down facts that you can easily find on the school’s website.
It’s more important to take notes on your feelings while being on campus, unanswered questions or what’s going on around you, to help trigger your memory later.
Your notes about each campus should include any likes, dislikes and questions you need answered later.
Think of it as a travel log, so you can reference back to each visit while trying to decide which school is right for you.
Do you have any other tips to help maximize college visits? If so, comment below!
Need money to pay for college?
Every semester, Fastweb helps thousands of students pay for school by matching them to scholarships, grants and awards for which they actually qualify. Sign up today to get started. You'll find scholarships like the $2,000 "No Essay" Scholarship from Niche, a scholarship open to all U.S. students and those planning on enrolling within 12 months, and high value scholarships like Opinion Outpost $10,000 Quarterly Prize.