1. You can learn what the weather – and the winter – is really likeDepending on the campus location, there are two times of year that may feature extreme temperatures – the high heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter. While summer classes and jobs are always a possibility, there is little doubt about where you will be in the middle of your school year – on your college campus! Therefore, experiencing the most extreme weather your future school has to offer will provide you with an excellent preview of what to expect over the next four years. Are you considering a college up north when you have always lived in the south? A weekend in the snow may put that decision in true perspective. Take advantage of the winter to see what sort of temperatures you will likely battle, as well as how each campus defines the “winter blues.”
2. You can experience a more honest view of campusThe fall and spring months are often awash with signs of special treatment – welcome banners, unique activities, frequent tours, and excellent food. A visit during the winter, on the other hand, can give you the chance to see the campus when it is not hosting as many guests. A winter visit also allows you to determine how the student body thrives and interacts all year round, not just when high school students and their parents are present.
3. You can enjoy the campus tour experience without the pressure of college applicationsVisiting schools once you submit your college applications enables you to view the campus with fresh, unstressed eyes. Without essay topics and a checklist of tasks to complete, now is the perfect opportunity to truly experience the campus atmosphere. Is this, for instance, the college or university you truly see yourself attending several months from now?
4. You can ask students about the freshman transitionThis year’s current freshmen are standing where you will be in a short year’s time. As such, they are most likely the students best suited to answering your questions about the college transition. They can relate to your current application experience, and they often know the most useful (and timely) advice to pass down. A visit during the fall means that these students have not had as long a chance to acclimate to higher education – after all, they are barely past their own senior year of high school at that point. Winter allows current college students to speak from a good body of experience, while also vividly remembering their transition from high school.
Samantha Brody is a professional tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She received her Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 2014.